Battle of the Locusts begins

Hundreds of locust hatchings confirmed in NSW central west.

More than 500 confirmed sightings of hatched locusts have now been registered with the locust control centre in Orange.

The plan is to spray 70,000 hectares of land that is known to harbour locust hatchings, but due to recent wet and windy weather, only 55,000 hectares have been aerially sprayed to date.

Deputy plague locust commissioner Simon Oliver says authorities hope to complete the program by the middle of this week.

The locust control centre is the hub for gathering all information on the latest on the looming plague. It co-ordinates all control activity, whether it be ground spraying or aerial spraying.

Geospatial officer Ian McGowan says that the latest technology and satellite mapping are being used in this outbreak, and they are really helping to track the locusts and assist with aerial and ground control.

He says all the LHPA rangers are equipped with GPS positioning technology and that ensures that exactly the right area is sprayed for maximum control.

He says the system has been fined tuned since the last outbreak in 2004, and now the technology works extremely well.

Peter Matthews, from Industry and Investment NSW, says farmers are very nervous and they have a lot of crop to protect from the locusts.

The latest forecast total winter crop for the state is estimated to be worth $2.85 billion.

Mr Matthews says it’s the best crop for ten years and it’s looking as though much of the crop will be green when the locusts are predicted to be hitting the skies.

He says once the locusts are in the air, there is really nothing farmers can do to protect the crop.

Tim Seears, policy officer with the Livestock health and Pest Authority, says the rangers are very happy with the support they are getting from landholders and the way they are already getting involved in ground control measures.

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