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Is it still a weed at $70/kg

The latest trend in top Sydney restaurants is weeds. Farmers friends, purslane, salsify, wild asparagus and nettle are all on the menu and chefs are willing to pay top dollar.

One man is on a mission to connect farmers, landholders and budding foragers from the Central Tablelands to the catering and restaurant industry of Sydney.

After many years working as a foraging educator Diego Bonetto has established Wildfood Store, a marketplace for edible wild food. The platform and registered company will offer farmers and people in regional NSW the opportunity to subsidise their income by harvesting desirable edible wild plants.

“There is an unrelenting request form the city’s fine dining industry for well presented, clean, atypical edible species.” said Diego.

For example young, good quality tips of farmers friends can fetch $7-8 for a 100 g punnet.

“Farmers have edible weeds growing all over so it is just a matter to train people how to harvest and package and get the produce to the city.” he continued.

Diego has secured some seed funding from the NSW Government via an initiative in collaboration with the Kandos School Of Cultural Adaptation.

The concept is simple. Chefs in the city want clean, well-presented and fresh wild edibles. Diego will train farmers on how to harvest and package the produce and via a distribution company in the city deliver them to the top restaurants in Sydney. The farmers get paid for their efforts and Diego will bring their stories to the city’s tables.

Diego will be running a Foragers Training Workshop in Kandos on Saturday, 11 August from 10am-12:30 pm.

Diego Bonneto will provide training on how to harvest and package desirable wild plants and get the produce to the city.

Diego Bonetto is an Italian artist, father, forager, speaker, keen naturalist and award winning cultural worker based in Sydney. Diego works with chefs, scientists, architects, academics, herbalists, brewers, soap makers, producers, educators and land owners, providing programs, workshops, tours, community engagement strategies and exhibitions. You can read more about Diego on his website: http://www.diegobonetto.com.

Attendance to the workshop is $10, visit https://www.diegobonetto.com/shop/mid-western-foragers-training-aug11 to book your spot.

Can’t make the workshop? Diego will also be available to conduct consultation visits to local properties to identify wild food produce potential during the week of August 6 to 10. Contact Diego on 0411 293 178 or info@diegobonetto.com for more information.

Helping to tackle Serrated Tussock

As part of the Nasty Nassella Serrated Tussock project, which is working on a new approach to serrated tussock, Watershed Landcare is inviting local landholders to a workshop to help them get the upper hand on this weed of national significance.

Serrated tussock

Watershed Landcare has partnered with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (CT LLS) and Mid-Western Regional Council (MWRC) to deliver the Nasty Nasella Workshop on Monday, 5 March.

The workshop will feature presentations from Clare Edwards, CTLLS Senior Land Services Officer (Pastures), who will discuss proactive whole-farm strategies to manage serrated tussock; Aaron Simmons, NSW Department of Primary Industries, will speak about the practicalities of serrated tussock management strategies from his perspective as a landholder and researcher; Matt Anderton, MWRC, will discuss landholder responsibilities and the new biosecurity legislation.

The Nasty Nasella workshop will be held from 9am-12:30pm, 5 March at The Stables, Market Street, Mudgee. This event is free to attend with lunch provided, but please RSVP to assist with catering by Friday, 2 March.

The Nasty Nassella Serrated Tussock project is also looking for farmers interested in developing a serrated tussock management plan for their farm.

“The project is capturing and building on the knowledge of experienced landholders as well as supporting those who have had limited experience with serrated tussock,” said Watershed Landcare Coordinator, Claudia Wythes.

“Rather than focusing only on chemical control, this project will deliver a broad range of practical management options that cater to landholders with different experience levels in dealing with the problem.”

Pasture species, alternative control strategies and the scale of the problem all need to be considered,” she continued.

Whether you are actively managing serrated tussock on your property, you have just spotted a few isolated plants, or you would like some help with identification, we want to hear from you,” said Ms Wythes.

To RSVP to the workshop or for more information about the Nasty Nassella project, contact Watershed Landcare Coordinator Claudia Wythes on 0412 011 064 or email: claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from the Central Tablelands LLS from NSW Catchment Action and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Dangerous application in dry times

The ongoing dry conditions experienced over much of the state are cause for concern amongst land managers and gardeners for several reasons. The primary, and most obvious, concern is for the provision of adequate water and forage for the health and productivity of livestock.

Rain Return: Will your ground cover absorb a ‘gully raker’ when the drought breaks? When prolonged dry conditions break it is often with heavy a downpour.

Another cause for concern may be the disruption in the annual spray programmes to reduce weed species.

When plants are moisture stressed translocation and respiration slow dramatically, restricting the movement of herbicides to their sites of action. Plants experiencing high temperature, low humidity and low soil moisture conditions tend to have a thicker cuticle (the protective cover of the leaf) with more waxy deposits on the surface. This reduces the absorption of foliar herbicides.

The timing and amount of rainfall not only determines the moisture status of the plant but also removes dust from the leaves and modifies the leaf cuticle. Recent rainfall will therefore improve herbicide uptake.

Soil moisture influences soil microbial activity which assists in the breakdown of herbicides in the soil. Dry soil conditions prevent the biological and chemical processes that degrade herbicides, making them more likely to persist and injure subsequent germinations of perennial pasture plants.

When weeds are growing under extreme moisture stress it may be best to wait to apply herbicide until conditions improve.

Maintaining adequate groundcover is very important at all times of the year. Good groundcover protects the soil from extreme climatic conditions, supports biological activity within the soil, and reduces weed seed germination and growth through competition.

When prolonged dry conditions break it is often with heavy a downpour, especially if this occurs within the summer months. These ‘gully rakers’ can cause much damage to farm infrastructure if there is no groundcover to absorb the moisture or to slow the flow of water across the landscape. There would be many in the district who can remember when drought breaking rains have reduced farm dams to a stinking crust of animal manure and other organic matter.

Alternative methods of weed control might be looked for in prolonged dry periods. Annual plants can be slashed or mown before their flowers mature and perennials can be chipped, pulled up if numbers are small, or slashed several times. These methods are labour intensive and therefore more costly, however perennial pastures will be protected and persistent herbicide residue in the soil will not be an issue. An added benefit will be the mulch of slashed, chipped or mown weeds covering the soil, protecting it from extreme climatic conditions and providing soil organisms with a food source.

Weed control during winter

The ideal time to control most weeds is when they are actively growing. This is usually in the warmer months. There are a few that can be controlled at any time of the year.

Two of those significant to this area are Serrated Tussock (Nassella trichotoma) and Cineraria (Cineraria lyratiformis). Both species are, unfortunately, common, and have adaptations for wind dispersal, but can also be spread by water, contaminated fodder, animals and vehicles.

Cineraria

Cinneraria has bright yellow flowers with eight petals which are borne in flat topped clusters at the ends of the branches. Mature leaves are oblong in shape and deeply divided. Juvenile leaves are small and rounded with soft serrations, somewhat similar to geraniums.

Cineraria is an annual plant that can grow and flower through winter. Being an annual, the root system is not very extensive and most plants can be pulled out.

This plant has the ability to produce seeds even if it is pulled out with young buds present. Therefore plants with any sign of a flower or bud must be bagged and later destroyed. At present there are no chemicals registered for Cineraria lyratiformis.

Cineraria is palatable to sheep and can be effectively controlled by confining a number of animals over an infestation. This plant is highly invasive and a dense perennial pasture is the best way of preventing seedling survival.

 

Serrated tussock

Serrated Tussock is a highly invasive perennial grass, which, if left untreated, can take only seven years to dominate a pasture or native grassland. It has virtually no grazing value due to a high fibre and low protein content.

The leaves of Serrated Tussock are very fin

e and when rolled between the index finger and thumb, roll smoothly – like a needle. In Autumn and Winter the leaves are a yellow-green, the tips of older leaves are often bleached by frost.

Isolated Serrated tussock plants can be dug up before flowering and turned upside down so no roots make contact with the soil. Fluproponate is the main chemical used in the control of Serrated Tussock. It is a residual chemical that will stop seedlings emerging for a period of about 2 years. Fluproponate is somewhat selective in that it will only kill certain types of grass. However, many of the grasses susceptible to Fluproponate are highly beneficial.

As with Cineraria a dense perennial pasture is the best way of preventing seedling survival.

Further information for identification of Cineraria can be found on the web, for example http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/weeds or http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au.

There are also many good resources for Serrated Tussock on the web. However, Serrated Tussock as a grass is a lot more difficult to identify, and more importantly, to distinguish it from other similar species. A hands on approach is recommended. Watershed Landcare will be offering a short session to help landholders identify Serrated Tussock and other similar grasses at the Mudgee Small Farms Field Days in July.

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Nasty Nasella – Get the Upper Hand on Serrated Tussock

As part of the Nasty Nassella Serrated Tussock project, which is working on a new approach to serrated tussock, Watershed Landcare is inviting local landholders to a workshop to help them get the upper hand on this weed of national significance.

Watershed Landcare has partnered with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (CT LLS) and Mid-Western Regional Council (MWRC) to deliver the Nasty Nasella Workshop on Monday, 5 March.

The workshop will feature presentations from Clare Edwards, CTLLS Senior Land Services Officer (Pastures), who will discuss proactive whole-farm strategies to manage serrated tussock; Aaron Simmons, NSW Department of Primary Industries, will speak about the practicalities of serrated tussock management strategies from his perspective as a landholder and researcher; Matt Anderton, MWRC, will discuss landholder responsibilities and the new biosecurity legislation.

The Nasty Nasella workshop will be held from 9am-12:30pm, 5 March at The Stables, Market Street, Mudgee. This event is free to attend with lunch provided, but please RSVP to assist with catering by Friday, 2 March.

To RSVP to the workshop or for more information about the Nasty Nassella project, contact Watershed Landcare Coordinator Claudia Wythes on 0412 011 064 or email: claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from the Central Tablelands LLS from NSW Catchment Action and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.