Territory Stories

Top paddock newsletter



Top paddock newsletter


Northern Territory. Department of Resources


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Agriculture; Northern Territory; Periodicals

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Northern Territory Government

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Issue 44

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



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15 Parthenium Weed Alert The vigilance of the Barkly Land Care Association has paid dividends with the early detection of an outbreak of parthenium weed at the Tennant Creek stockyards in July 2010. The identification was confirmed by a Technical Officer with the Pastoral Production group, in Department of Resources. Weed Management Officers of the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, The Arts and Sport immediately took steps to contain the infestation. Parthenium weed poses a serious threat to the Northern Territory. Parthenium weed can germinate, grow, mature and set seed in as little as 28 days. It is a prolific seed producer capable of producing 100 000 seeds per plant. Parthenium weed is a native of Central and South America. It was first recorded in Australia in 1955 when it was accidentally introduced in a shipment of grain seed. It has since spread through central Queensland and New South Wales where it is now well established. It is a major problem in rangelands and cropping areas of Queensland costing farmers and graziers more than $22 million a year in reduced production and increased management costs. All parts of the parthenium plant at any stage of growth are toxic to humans and animals. It has been shown to be related to health problems for some people living or working in close proximity to it, resulting in allergy-type responses. An absence of allergic symptoms should not be assumed to indicate a lack of sensitivity, since it may take up to 20 years for symptoms to show. It is toxic to cattle, and meat from livestock that eat the weed, can be tainted. It can cause dermatitis with pronounced skin lesions on all animals, mouth ulcers with excessive salivation if eaten and eye irritation in working dogs. In serious cases loss of condition in farm animals can cause death due to rupturing and haemorrhaging of internal tissues and organs. Parthenium weed grows best on alkaline, clay-loam to heavy soils in areas where rainfall is greater than 500mm per year and falls predominantly in summer. In 1977 parthenium was discovered in the Northern Territory along Elsey Creek in the Mataranka district. The infestation had spread 8km downstream from the Roper Highway. This infestation was the subject of an intensive eradication program, involving aerial and ground spraying as well as manual removal and the plant was successfully eradicated from this area. Smaller infestations have been reported and controlled in the Katherine and Borroloola areas.