Biological Control

By | News | No Comments

Biological control (or biocontrol) uses specialised natural enemies (biocontrol agents), to help control invasive species. Biocontrol is not a “silver bullet”, but it can play an important role in the integrated management of gorse. Farmers, natural resource managers, community volunteers and others contribute to biocontrol efforts by identifying infestations suitable for biocontrol, releasing biocontrol agents, monitoring biocontrol agent release sites, and recording field observations of agents as they spread across the landscape. Four biological control agents have been released for gorse:

  1. Gorse seed weevil Exapion ulicis
  2. Gorse spider mite Tetranychus lintearius
  3. Gorse thrips Sericothrips staphylinus
  4. Gorse soft shoot moth Agonopterix umbellana

In the long term, these four agents are expected to reduce gorse vigour and reproduction. The first two, gorse seed weevil and gorse spider mite are now widespread. Gorse thrips has been widely released, but population growth and dispersal appears to be slow.

The fourth biocontrol agent to be introduced, gorse soft shoot moth, is now established and abundant at several sites in Tasmania. Recent efforts involving scientists, farmers, public land managers and volunteers, has focused on collecting and releasing gorse soft shoot moths from Tasmania to supplement mainland releases.

To support ongoing biocontrol efforts, Agriculture Victoria and the Atlas of Living Australia have developed an on-line resource and smartphone app; the Australian Biocontrol Hub. The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) is a national on-line biodiversity database that contains tens of millions of user-submitted species occurrence records from field observations, collections and surveys. This resource has tremendous potential for biocontrol, as anyone is able to:

  1. record biocontrol agent release and establishment data;
  2. capture observations of biocontrol agent spread;
  3. ensure biocontrol agent distribution data is readily accessible, and
  4. access biocontrol information and references to support local biocontrol efforts.

A custom-made Biocontrol Hub app for Apple and Android phones facilitates the collection of data from the field, and makes the resources of the ALA readily available on smartphones.

To learn more about the gorse biocontrol project, or any of the other 27 weed biocontrol projects, go to, and click on the “Go to biocontrol projects” button on the Hub home-page.

To download the Biocontrol Hub app go to Google Play:

or the App store:


The Australian Biocontrol Hub is supported by the Atlas of Living Australia, and is funded by Agriculture Victoria, Meat and Livestock Australia and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit Programme.

Participate in the VGT Gorse Survey and WIN!

By | News | No Comments

The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) has developed a survey to gain an understanding of the types of support that communities need from VGT to manage gorse in their local area. The VGT uses government investment to establish and support community-led projects, which aim to eradicate gorse where possible across Victoria. Gorse is a highly invasive weed. It can adversely impact on agriculture, waterways, amenity and native vegetation, as well as harbour pests such as, rabbits and foxes.

In Victoria gorse is:

  • Regionally prohibited in the East Gippsland catchment
  • Regionally restricted in the Mallee catchment
  • Regionally controlled in all other Victorian catchments

RM Consulting Group have been engaged by VGT to run the survey, which seeks information about work done on your property to control gorse.

The results from this survey will help the VGT identify opportunities where we can provide better support to you or your networks. If you know or suspect gorse on your property please take five minutes to fill out the survey so the VGT can work to provide the right support.

The survey should not take any more than 5 to 10 minutes to complete and you can go in the draw to win 1 of 3 $50 Woolworths vouchers. The survey can be accessed via this link:


This survey will close 5pm, 19 March 2018.

Victrack supporting community led gorse action

By | News | No Comments

In 2011, in my then role as a gorse project officer for the St Helens Landcare Group, I was contacted by a farmer who wanted to get some action on gorse adjoining his land at Koroit. The land in question was a 37m wide strip of former railway line. If I had known what a window into my future employment and project works this meeting would have – I might have taken more photos. But as it was then, I went through the process of confirming who the landholder was (Victrack) and seeking a control on the gorse that was at that time over 9 feet tall and infesting over 10 ha of crown land set aside for railway purposes back in 1890.

Gorse has a long history in the district of Koroit. An almost equal measure of gorse was present on the private land to the west of the railway land. Arguing about who was responsible for infesting what would have been pointless. The issue was how to control what was there and work a plan to keep it controlled over time.

Looking back at the photos I did take (especially one where the farmer demonstrates to senior Victrack staff who visited the site in 2013 how he used the prevailing wind to drift his spray across the top of the railway gorse to keep it off the fence line) I see a moment in time when people from many parts of the issue came together and agreed to resolve a problem that requires a long term effort. Since 2011 Victrack have paid for ongoing control of the gorse on their land at Koroit. As an organisation they have also made it very easy for people unsure about where Victrack managed land is to identify it by using the free Google Earth layer available following the link below the article.

But more importantly, the gorse site and a further 30km of former railway line running north between Koroit and Minhamite has become a significant biodiversity project of my employer since 2012 The Basalt to Bay Landcare Network. This project called “The Green Line” represents a milestone in many ways. First it established a connection between problem solving and Landcare in Moyne Shire with Victrack. That effort then resulted in The Green Line becoming one of Victracks’ foremost investments in biodiversity protection under their sponsorship of Landcare.

While Lot 36 Koroit will never be free of gorse, it does now have a chance of becoming what many thought it would never be – an integral part of restoring degraded land so other can learn how to do that using Landcare methods.

My thanks to Victrack for being involved and staying involved.

Rail land in geographic data form. This downloadable KMZ file is a snapshot of VicTrack’s land holdings in geographic data format viewable in Google Earth. To use it, please install Google Earth first, then download our KMZ file, unzip it and then install. The data shows only the rail corridor boundaries and does not show any lease boundaries, title references, buildings and platforms, third party utilities, tracks or bridges. It is a correct record as at July 2015. Please contact VicTrack directly to clarify any issues related to land use within the rail corridor.

Lisette Mill, Facilitator for The Basalt to Bay Landcare Network, SW Victoria.

Using herbicide for control of gorse

By | News | No Comments

There are many options available to attack gorse but what method you choose will depend on some of the following circumstances;

  • Machinery availability i.e. mulching equipment, spray unit, knapsack
  • Own expertise and labour available
  • Access to the treatment area i.e. terrain
  • Amount of money you have available to allocate to the job
  • Amount of area to be treated

The above photo shows the effectiveness of herbicide used on a large infestation of gorse that was sprayed in December 2016 by a contractor. The size of the plants were generally between 0.6 to 1.5 meters tall. Overall excellent results with 99% kill rate of gorse.

I have had experience in using both spraying and mulching control methods. I have found that generally there is only need to spray new seedlings  annually after the larger infestations are reduced or removed from the property. When undertaking gorse spraying I usually contact my local Landcare Group and borrow their high volume spray unit.

To get an effective kill of gorse you need to follow the directions for use of the chemical as detailed by the manufacturer, paying particular attention to rain events and the volume of the mix i.e. chemical to water ratio.

I have always mixed a red dye into the spray unit as you can readily see what you have sprayed. In areas where there are many gorse seedlings you can easily miss treating a few. If you miss it this year it will be most likely be twice as big next year and you will need to use more chemical.

The below photo shows gorse that has not had a 100% kill rate and one contributing factor may be that spray coverage over the gorse plants was not thorough enough. Herbicide manufacturer’s instructions for woody weeds are to provide: ’Thorough coverage of foliage to the point of run-off is essential, however avoid excess spraying which is wasteful of chemical’.

Brian Rowe – VGT committee member

Mulching as the first step in controlling gorse

By | News | No Comments

One of the dilemmas one faces when confronted with a head high impenetrable wall of gorse is …where do I start? As demonstrated at the field day conducted by the Tylden Landcare group the use of the eco blade technology in which the gorse is mulched and the trunks painted with herbicide is one way to start.

The accompanying photos show a roadside at Glenlyon where the Hepburn Shire has undertaken mulching with swinging head mulcher attached to a tractor to reduce dense gorse to a manageable level and a paddock on private property where an impenetrable wall of gorse has been returned to a lawn by initial mulching with heavy equipment followed by regular follow up with a ride on mulcher.

In both instances the stumps of gorse and the seedbank are still in the ground the areas will require  follow up treatment generally involving the use of herbicide on the freshly germinated plants or combined with the mulching to have a long term impact.

The National Best Practice Manual for Gorse published by the Australian Government in partnership the Tasmanian Government provides examples of the various options to return gorse infested land to production and emphasizes the importance of conducting follow up for at least two years before revegetating the land with grasses or shrubs.

John Cable – VGT committee member