Thursday, April 25, 2024

New handbook to manage spread of Tropical Soda Apple

Farmers, land managers and the environment are set to benefit from the NSW Tropical Soda Apple Taskforce’s new best practice manual.

Tropical Soda Apple is an insidious weed that has long been on the environmental hitlist of Kempsey Shire Council.

The Council says all hands on deck are needed to control the spread of this aggressive weed, which colonises farmland and riverbanks by hitching a ride on the buying and selling of livestock, on river systems and wildlife, or by moving machinery, vehicles and fodder.

“The result of a collaboration between the NSW Government, NSW Farmers, and a range of local councils including Kempsey Shire Council, the new manual shows you how to identify the weed and what to do if you find it, how to control and dispose of the weed and how to stop its spread,” Council said in a statement.

Tropical soda apple, Solanum viarum, is an aggressive, prickly, perennial shrub which has invaded areas from the Hunter to Northern NSW.

Landowners and occupiers must adhere to the statewide Biosecurity (Tropical Soda Apple) Control Order 2022 by keeping their land free from the weed and prevent further germination.  

They need to ensure no part of a tropical soda apple plant which could produce a new plant, including stems, leaves, fruit and seeds, is moved off their land, which includes movement by machinery, fodder and livestock. 

It invades open to semi-shaded areas, pastures and riparian zones, forests, roadsides, recreational areas, and horticultural and cropping areas. It reduces biodiversity by displacing native plants and disrupting ecological processes.  

The weed grows in thorny thickets, creating physical barriers to prevent animals from accessing shade and water, hosts diseases and pests of cultivated crops and contains solasodine, which is poisonous to people.  

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