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HomeVolume 26War on buffel grass starts now

War on buffel grass starts now


We’ve just had lots of rain and buffel grass is ready to pounce.

Alongside roadsides the weed is growing vigorously.

Pull one out and check the colouration of the roots.

Are they pink? Yes? Then they are buffel. But at what stage is it?

If the plant hasn’t reached flowering stage you can just leave the clump right there to rot and become mulch.

But if you’ve missed that point in the plant’s life cycle and it has set seed?

Its inevitable expansion is under way and only a phalanx of chemicals can hold it back in its relentless acquisition of our treasured parklands.


Last updated 15 November, 12.15pm


  1. What a feast awaits a biological control and there is one.
    But of course a biological control would also destroy the weed on pastoral properties.
    So the destruction of our irreplaceable desert ecosystem will continue without the NT or Federal governments lifting a finger.

  2. Make it easy for Magistrates – Depending on charge. Allot an area to clear of buffel instead of gaol.

  3. @ Chris: Small areas of buffel can be cleared by hand but need to be re-weeded every year.
    Buffel produces millions of wind borne seeds.
    There is no safe chemical that can be used on buffel, Glyphosate is often used but is hazardous.
    On a broad scale, Buffel is well beyond physical or chemical removal and is adapting to different soil types.
    In the long term, Central Australia will be a vast buffel plain with few trees.
    Periodically it will be razed by ferocious wild fires.
    A biological control is the only hope now but currently there is no research underway on this.

  4. We all know buffel can’t be eradicated, but it can be properly managed.
    The NT Government must heed Federal Buffel Grass Threat Abatement Advice.
    One of the first steps in the Federal Advice is to declare buffel grass a class b weed (for management, not eradication).
    Essentially Class b weed declaration prevents deliberate spread (it would stop continued planting and irrigation – there are current examples of groundwater licences being used for irrigating buffel) and legislate management plans.
    The main reason the NT Government gives against implementing Federal Threat Abatement Advice is that buffel is valued by some pastoralists.
    But what is the value of pastoralism? Economic data indicates the industry contributes about 0.8% to the NT GDP. Surely the costs, especially to the environment, tourism, culture and community, far outweigh these profits, reaped by so few?
    (Some government officers have gone so far as to state there is no social licence for strong buffel management. We all know this is not true).
    Another reason the NT Government gives against implementing Federal Threat Abatement Advice is that buffel is technically difficult to manage.
    The creators of the Federal Advice understand buffel better than pretty much anyone. It is realistic. SA has implemented it. Sure, management is difficult, but not impossible. The NT Government admit this – buffel grass is included in their fragmented and toothless regional weed management plans and the Lhere Mpartwe Strategy.
    I have heard people say – what’s the point, the invasion has gone too far, we just need to accept it. There are still huge tracks of land that are not invaded, sacred places that we can protect. If it were a invasive disease threatening humans I am sure we would not throw our hand up in defeat so easily.
    We need to follow Federal Buffel Grass Threat Abatement Advice. Anything less is ecocide.

  5. Just one more point to add related to biological control:
    Is there ANYONE researching the Mampava rhodoneura, the buffel grass seed caterpillar, is a species of snout mouth in the genus Mampava. It was described by Turner in 1905, and is known from Queensland in Australia.
    Is there ANYONE investigating the possible opportunities of buffel dieback?

  6. In special, high value areas buffel management is very possible but woefully neglected.
    For example, for years / decades the destruction of precious habitats at Kings Canyon by invasive buffel has proceeded unchecked.
    This is a prime tourist destination and surely a worthwhile project.
    The economics of buffel control are overwhelmingly sound.
    Come on green groups!!
    Take matters into our own hands and bring the buffel seed caterpillar from Queensland to Central Australia.


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