On Friday December 2nd Richmond Valley Council invited other Councils from across NSW's North Coast and BRRVLN along to inspect their trials with a new Glyphosate free organic herbicide.
Richmond Valley Council has changed its approach to utilising poison with an interest to exclude glyphosate from use in general public areas including garden beds, parks and reserves, around playgrounds, around trees, skate parks, public eating facilities, dog off-leash enclosures and preferably across the board where possible. RVC are currently trialling the organic herbicide called Localsafe in order to achieve this.
More information about this product can be found at www.contactorganics.com.au
Stuart Hall, Operations Coordinator Open Space, Facilities and Cemeteries says “Richmond Valley Council is looking to change a culture of poison distribution and use. For years operators, companies, corporations, councils and others have over used certain chemicals because they are cheap (if bought in bulk), require minimal mixture rates when diluted, will kill almost any plant in the zone of spray and sometimes beyond. I have used glyphosate over the past 30 years in commercial and domestic areas over many states of Australia and remember being informed in the earlier days by the distribution agents that it's 'so safe you can drink it', although it was never demonstrated. When I was approached regarding a non-glyphosate product I was eager to find out more and look into being able to implement a change in a 'we've always done it this way' culture.”
Trials have been occurring since late July 2016 across several areas in the RVC area and with multiple applicators including hand held 500ml spray bottles, back pack, hand held 9L and the pump operated 1000L spray truck. For the past 5 months Council has distributed the product in open space reserves, parks, gardens, foot paths, road side and around trees with mixed results. RVC have not trialled the product through boom application as cost analysis indicated it would not be cost effective and therefore not justified with limited budget allocation. So far the results have been mixed with more analysis required and follow up distribution across a broader selection of common weeds.
The weeds that were drenched to run off in gardens, footpaths and around trees definitely reacted quickly, within 24 hrs a noticeable decline in growth, browning and curling of the leaf surface was highly evident. The product is a contact poison so will kill on contact but does not creep like other solutions. By 48 hours the treated weeds had totally browned and were in major decline, there is a strong scent in the product (vinegar) which did lead to people asking what we were spraying. When advised a trial on a non-glyphosate poison most replies were positive.
Broad acre sprays had very poor initial results and require follow up applications consistent to climate variances / conditions and drenching requirements (a lot of product to treat a small area) which is not currently cost effective.
Riverbank results need further trialling and applications to determine whether there is a feasible change in the common weeds of Casino and surrounds. This product does claim to enhance soil structure while removing weed plants which would be a definite plus for our environment.
Stuart says “RV Council is almost half way though the trial and we are seeing positive initial results for the safety of our people / operators, our residents and pets owners alike. However there is still more assessment required to determine whether the trial is successful and feasible into the future. Collation of data is ongoing and we will be looking to provide some further information in the next 6 months."
The picture on left shows the effect on a weed 48 hours following treatment at the bottom compared with no treatment in the plant at the top.