Rangers and land managers across Cape York are in the midst of their annual attack on Gamba Grass, a Class 2 declared pest plant in Queensland.

Introduced as improved pasture grass species in 1942, Gamba Grass thrives in Australian conditions. The grass has adapted successfully, particularly in Cape York savanna country. According to the Department of Agriculture, Fisherise ans Forestry (DAFF), it can produce up to 244,000 seeds annually, and while seeds are light and easily dispersed by wind, 90 percent fall within five metres of the parent plant.

As this species grows prolifically in higher rainfall conditons, conditions of rain followed by sun and heat provide the perfect environment for Gamba Grass growth.  It is during this period of high growth, and before seeding, that pest management experts target their efforts.

Shane Forester from Cape York Weeds and Feral Animal Program (CYWAFAP) said the organisation has been providing roadside Gamba Grass control for many years.

“Spraying is carried out to kill the plant before it seeds, as it can easily become a mono-culture,” Mr Forester said.

“We wait for the wet season to kick in, then we spray. However, because of the wet, our access to areas that need control can be limited."

Mr Forester said the best control scenario is to have the weed is controlled locally, and the Apudthama Rangers of the Northern Peninsula Area are doing just that.

“Now we are working with rangers in Napranum to teach them how best to tackle gamba grass in the wet season,” Mr Forester said.

“At the moment, while waiting for the Gamba Grass growth spurt, we’re showing the rangers how to control sicklepod. The control methods are the same, so it’s a great use of time and resources”.

PHOTO Rangers learn weed control skills: Leon Bond mixes while Leon Jawai, Bronwyn Hall and Nagai Bosun look on.

Ranger Nagai Bosun spraying sicklepod