Broom Control Guide

Do's and Don'ts of Broom Control

Montpelier broom in flower

Do's

  • Plan your control program, this will save time and money in the long-run;
  • Consider the impact of your control methods on off-target species, especially if herbicides are used;
  • Ensure machinery and equipment is washed down between sites or prior to contractors leaving site;
  • Get in early - for new infestations, eradicate before the plants reach the flowering stage: once plants begin seeding, control becomes more difficult and expensive;
  • Carefully time your use of herbicide for best results (see Herbicides for Broom Control for more information);
  • Coordinate your control program with neighbouring landholders where your weed problem crosses property boundaries;
  • Revisit and regularly inspect the site and ensure follow-up is undertaken;
  • Use a combination of different control methods; and
  • Establish vigorous pasture (or native species) after removal to reduce re-infestation.

Don'ts

  • Don't introduce broom to broom-free areas (e.g. by failing to wash down machinery and equipment between sites);
  • Don't start your control program without first planning your approach;
  • Don't allow broom to flower and set seed before treatment;
  • Don't rely on one attempt at removal - follow-up is essential;
  • Don't rely on just one control method;
  • Never burn broom without follow up treatment of regrowth; and
  • Do not burn broom in native vegetation.


Spread of broom

  • Broom spreads solely by seed. The bursting pods can eject seed for 1 to 3 metres from the parent plant. Ants may also disperse seeds. Dry pods containing seeds can also be blown short distances by wind.
  • Broom seeds are not buoyant in water but can be carried in the bed load of rivers and streams, resulting in long distance dispersal downstream. Long distance seed movement can also occur in mud and soil carried on road graders and earth moving equipment, farm machinery, vehicles and footwear and in sand and gravel from quarries.
  • Seed can also be carried within the digestive tracts of horses and other animals. Contaminated agricultural produce may also result in some spread.
  • Seed germination usually occurs after some soil or vegetation disturbance including cultivation, fire, slashing, herbicide treatment, road-making and pig-digging. However, broom can also invade native vegetation without major disturbance.

Avoiding the introduction of broom

  • If cultivation must be carried out in infested areas, ensure all equipment is cleaned and checked for broom seed before moving to un-infested areas. If possible, always work un-infested areas first.
  • Gravel and sand should not be removed from infested quarries and streams.
  • Broom growing along access tracks must be controlled to limit spread of seed. Vehicles, bush walkers and horse riders using infested areas should keep to designated routes to minimise the spread of seed.

Physical removal

  • Small plants can be hand pulled or grubbed in spring when the ground is soft.
  • Cutting seedlings when they are 5 to 10 cm high can provide effective control of regenerating plants.
  • Larger shrubs should be cut close to ground level and the stumps painted with herbicide. See Herbicides for Broom Control for more information.
  • Dense thickets can be slashed with a brushcutter and regrowth sprayed with herbicide. See Herbicides for Broom Control for more information.

Cultivation

  • Pasture improvement is the best method of control for broom infested pastures on arable land where large plants can be mechanically removed, followed by repeated cultivation, pasture establishment and grazing.
  • Some dense infestations have been destroyed by bulldozing and repeated cultivation over two years. However, soil disturbance will move seed from the surface and distribute it through the soil profile and may in some instances make long term eradication more difficult.

Burning

  • Fire can be used to remove mature bushes and to reduce the broom seed bank in the soil.
  • Heating of the soil by fire can stimulate the germination of up to 90% of seed in the soil. Regeneration after fire can then be treated with herbicide or by hand weeding.
  • When pasture species cannot be established on burned areas (e.g. stony ground, creek banks), or regeneration of native species is required (conservation areas and bushlands), do not use fire to remove broom.

Grazing

  • Sheep and goats will graze broom seedlings and flowers and assist in preventing infestations.

Biological control

  • Biological control is the use of a living species, usually an insect, mite or disease, to control a weed;
  • Biological control will not eradicate broom, but may be used in conjunction with other control methods;
  • Biological control agents for English broom that have been released in Tasmania include the twig mining moth and the broom bud psyllid.
  • For more information on biological control programs in Tasmania contact the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture.

Native vegetation

  • In native vegetation, preventing ground disturbance will help reduce the rate of invasion by brooms.
  • Do not burn broom in native vegetation. Bushes should be removed with minimal soil disturbance.

Chemical control

  • A number of herbicides are registered for use on broom in Tasmania. See Herbicides for Broom Control for more information.
  • For dense stands wider than 4 to 5 metres, access paths should be cleared to allow complete coverage.
  • Apply herbicide when plants are actively growing. This is generally spring to early summer, and after the autumn break.
  • Allow regrowth to reach 50 to 100 cm high before herbicide treatment; this ensures enough leaf area to absorb sufficient herbicide to kill the roots.
  • Basal bark and cut stump application are useful where foliar application of herbicide may cause off-target damage, for example in treating broom on riverbanks or amongst desirable shrubs and trees.
  • In agricultural situations, broom bushes should be removed after spraying to facilitate the preparation of a seedbed, the sowing of pasture seed and the spot treatment of regrowth. This removal will also reduce the fire hazard created by the dead plants.
  • Sprayed bushes should not be removed until full brownout has occurred (at least six months after treatment).
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