Ragwort reduction celebrated

RAGWORT raids on land in the Tamar Valley have proven so effective there are plans for expansion.

Raid co-ordinator Jayne Shapter and her troupe of volunteers were yesterday celebrating their West Tamar weed haul - one of the lowest recorded since the initiative began.

``I'd say we've probably got about half of what we had last year, it would be less than a quarter of what we got the first time we did it on the West Tamar,'' Mrs Shapter said after the Winkleigh raid.

``I'm very happy to report that we found very little on East Tamar as well, which is very good.

``This season might just be an unusual season, we've had unusual weather coming up to it . . . I'm a little bit concerned they might be late.''

She said a survey of Launceston City municipality will be conducted ahead of plans to next year raid the Blessington and Nunamara area.

``Tamar NRM have got a little bit of funding, we'll be working hard to extend it,'' Mrs Shapter said.

Toxic alkaloids found in ragwort can cause potentially fatal liver damage to horses and livestock that eat it.

Mrs Shapter said part of trying to control the weed was understanding the behaviour of its growth.

``It is biennial, which means it grows a rosette the first year and flowers the next,'' she said.

``Part of what we've been doing is trying to educate the community, it's not a good weed, it's not good for farmers, it's toxic for stock, seed moves around if it gets into hay and it's bad for the environment.

``Just by getting rid of it on roadsides and encouraging farmers to do a bit of work on their land, the influence is hugely less than it was 15 years ago.''

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