VICTORIAN scientists are working on a solution to control aquatic weeds that block irrigation channels.
Scientists from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in conjunction with Goulburn-Murray Water and Murrumbidgee Irrigation are testing a potential new herbicide to wipe out submerged aquatic weeds.
DPI Senior Research Scientist Tony Dugdale said efficient water delivery was of critical importance to irrigators, farmers and the community.
“When these weeds infest irrigation channels, the hydraulic capacity of the channels is reduced and the delivery of water becomes compromised,” Dr Dugdale said.
“This ultimately leads to reduced water delivery to irrigators.”
Dr Dugdale said controlling submerged aquatic weeds was particularly challenging because there were limited options for controlling the plants underwater.
“Currently the most cost effective way to get rid of these weeds is to use a herbicide. There is only one herbicide appropriate for this use in Australia – and it can be toxic,” he said.
“Therefore the potential new herbicide could also provide significant environmental benefits.
“The herbicides are applied to irrigation channels only and the treated water is strictly managed so it does not go into natural waterways or drinking water supplies.”
Dr Dugdale said the research program was investigating a range of herbicide options by conducting screening trials in the laboratory followed by field experiments.
“We are currently testing different formulations of the herbicide endothal to see if it is a more effective control option than current techniques – and so far it’s looking promising,” he said.
“Endothal has a good toxicological profile. It is used in irrigation channels in the USA without a withholding period and is far safer than the current method.
“The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority will ultimately assess the risks about whether it’s suitable for use in Australia.”
DPI is committed to controlling weeds to safely protect Victoria’s primary producers, agricultural industries and the environment.