Selectively spraying from the skies

Helicopter spraying spartina

Helicopters have been used to deliver a herbicide that may be able to eradicate a weedy grass known as spartina in the Western Port region.

The herbicide has no impact on native saltmarsh plants or animals, specifically targeting Spartina grass.

‘Spartina grows in salt marshes that are boggy and thick with mangroves, so getting in and out on foot (to spray) is very inefficient,’ says Melbourne Water Manager Regional Services (South-East) John Woodland.

‘Doing this important work by helicopter saves significant time and money and will help us deliver our desired result of eradicating Spartina in Western Port by 2025.'

Spartina was originally introduced to manage erosion – its matt-like growth stabilises sand banks – however, it also destroys native plants and has driven out native animals.

With the removal of Spartina, it is expected native saltmarsh plants will return, providing natural habitat and feeding grounds for native wildlife, such as the Orange Belly Parrot.