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Byron Shire
January 25, 2021

Byron aims for chemical-free weed control

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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Byron Shire Council voted last week to aim to go chemical free within the next five years in a new shire-wide weed/pest management policy. The policy includes ending the use of all non-organic chemical-based herbicides and pesticides on all Council-owned and -managed land.

Byron mayor Simon Richardson said, ‘Our community needs confidence that our high-use areas do not use chemical herbicides unless it is absolutely necessary and there is no other viable alternative. For instance, this would include playgrounds and sports fields.

‘Using steam to eradicate weeds is already being embraced more and more by individual and organisational land owners. Council needs to keep up and embrace new technology that is sustainable for our shire.

‘While [the five-year target] is aspirational, we need to set a benchmark against which we can list our achievements and perhaps revise the target if needed. Let’s consider a trial in some locations and empower our community to pitch in and help when they are willing.’

Council will also be writing to the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for assurances that no aerial spraying or broad-scale, ground-based spraying residue can contaminate Council or private land adjacent to NPWS-controlled land, along with a request that NPWS engage with the community to grow a community ecological and non-chemical weed-management group.

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  1. Great news for both those who live here and those who visit and of course the vast natural ecosystems in the environment that surrounds us.I have friends with chemical sensitivity as I do also, who wont come to Byron because of the toxicity from all the roadside etc spraying. Spray free weed control has been achieved in other locations.One example I know of is Shepparton in Victoria.So good to hear that a positive change is on the way.

  2. Good Luck!
    The decision won’t work. How can you remove bindii and thistles from a field with steam? Impossible.
    Sure roadsides are possible, hard curb and guttering around developed areas
    How much does steam cost? Lots of boiled water = lots of energy = greenhouse gases…
    This is a subtropical climate, not frigid Victoria and there are more species of plants and they grow much faster up here than in temperate climes.
    As for manual labour, OMG!! do you know how much that would cost!!! Why do you think they are using herbicides in the first place?? The closest thing we can achieve with that idea is Green corps or its latest conservative incarnation, and talk to any supervisor about how effective those groups are! (Not very)
    Everything is a chemical; water, air, stomach acid. Too much of anything will kill you.
    Rome ploughed salt into the fields of Carthage, poisoning the soil. Salt doesn’t degrade but Glyphosate does..
    I spray all sorts of stuff and i have heaps of frogs, birds and animals at my place.

  3. I am looking forward to not having to watch children stepping on areas sprayed with glyphosate in our local playgrounds and sports fields.
    Also to see our road sides being managed with steam machines. Thank you Mayor Simon Richardson and Council for your courage in leading the way in the Northern Rivers for a chemical-free Byron Shire.

    I know and I understand that a lot of people feel very nervous about changing to a sustainable land management approach. However, this is the only way we will preserve a healthy community and environment for present and future generations.

    Decades of pesticides and their residues on our land already have a detrimental impact on our water quality and soil fertility. To see the precautionary principal being implemented locally is the beginning of a community taking responsibility for its environmental footprint.

    This movement is already happening on private land through the organic farming industry, so it is time to join in and do it on public land.

    • Thank-you Nadia for all your passion, commitment, experience and ‘knowing’ that it is now time to behave in new ways to live with nature that have nothing to do with harmful chemicals and the companies that see them. Chemical free, green shire…. yes please.

  4. This is an ill thought out decision. It is possible on hard surfaces at high enviromental cost due to energy but not possible in turfgrass. They should review what hapended in Canada when they tried this for a number of years and had to back down. It gets to a point when usage of sporting field and turf spaces and usafe due to weeds. At this point council is open for litirgation. Instead they should be focusing on an intergrade approach that aims to use chemcial in limited manner and use other cultural and biological controls when possible.

    Good luck and call me in a few years when you want you problem fixed

  5. I’m all for not supporting morally corrupt corporations like Monsanto, however, I agree with some of the article comments of a less black-and-white nature. How often will you have to conduct steam treatment? Will council be prepared to be more proactive? Because they will need to be to keep on top of any growing weed seed banks. How effective is steam treatment on the not-so-fleshy, woody weeds?


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