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Did people have other ideas about how to deal with the lantana?
Look, I had spent years up to that point dealing with lantana mechanically and where you can get the tractor I’ve got a bucket on the front of the tractor and you can push it out. But that disturbs the soil and that creates a lot of weeds – secondary weed germination. Whereas when you splatter it the lantana just dies there and you get very good native regen, but much less secondary weed regen. Which is very interesting, other people I’ve spoken to, and in my view, it’s just a hundred times – I don’t use the term exaggeratedly – but it’s at least two orders of magnitude more efficient in terms of human time than doing it mechanically. Because when you do it mechanically, you don’t get every little root, but when you kill it, when you splatter it, the herbicide gets through the whole plant and kills it. So very little, if any, of the herbicide gets through to the soil.
So you had people who were very committed to the idea of organics, not diverging from that at all.
Well you see the agriculture here is organic, biodynamic. But the thing was, the question is, ‘Well what do you want to leave to future generations, do you want to leave a mess of lantana on the non-agricultural 85%, or do you want to leave a regenerating rainforest?’ That’s the question. And what’s the trade off? Well the trade-off is perhaps a small amount of impurity if I can use that word. That’s the trade-off. But temporary, very temporary. I mean the stuff breaks down quite quickly and you get, you end up with a permanent rain forest you know? But it’s a big jump, it was a big jump for me because of my involvement in the organic movement and all that.
So were people more concerned with the impact on the water supply from herbicide use?
Well that’s the potential health issue.
So not the soil so much necessarily?
Well the soil, there are bacteria in the soil that would break it down probably within weeks. It adheres, our soil has a lot of clay in it and the Glyphosate molecule adheres strongly onto clay. So if it does get to the soil, which very little of it would, because you’re putting this stuff on a solid canopy of lantana. None of it’s getting through. How do I know? Because there are little trees under there that stay alive and so up they come, you know? So it gets metabolised by the lantana plant and if it does get onto the soil it adsorbs, sticks to the soil and breaks down in this hot climate very quickly. So the scientists tell us and once again I’ve got that sort of data on the You Tube thing too. YouTube Leigh Davison it should just pop up.
The lantana- I’ve read extracts from old newspapers – but it started to take over pretty quickly from the days of European settlement in this area. It was introduced as a hedge plant, it’s native to South America or Central America. But lantana’s easier to get rid of than Blackberry, give me lantana any day. Similar thing with the camphor too, they were introduced as a shade tree in schools and they got away. They are an excellent shade tree but yeah.