Weeds no match for new Ross River harvester

Date published: 16 May 2023

Weeds on the Ross River have a new predator in town as Council launches its brand new 6.5 tonne weed harvester to combat invasive species in the waterway.

The floating machine recently arrived in Townsville from the United States to replace Council’s older retiring harvester. The new model includes stainless steel fittings, a quieter engine, and the capacity to complete in one hour what the old harvester could do in one day.

Deputy Mayor Mark Molachino said he was thrilled to see the harvester out on the river.

“The harvester is an essential piece of equipment to remove invasive species like salvinia, water hyacinth and cabomba, which are native to the Americas,” Cr Molachino said.

“As a Council we’re committed to growing Townsville’s participation in recreational activities like rowing and skiing but weeds like cabomba make it dangerous and difficult to make the most of the Ross River.

“The weeds are also detrimental to our river systems, as they can slow down water movement, lower oxygen levels and kill fish and native plants. Unfortunately we have warm weather, plenty of sunlight and lots of nutrient run-off into our waterways which creates a haven for invasive species.

“Our new harvester can cut the weeds from varying levels, from the top of the water to the riverbed far below, and can carry the plant matter back to the riverbank where our crew can spray it with a special microbe to turn it into soil and fertiliser.”

Councillor Suzy Batkovic said the new machine was safer for Council employees to use.

“Our new weed harvester has a cooler cabin with single-stick controls and better coverage from the elements, which means our team members are better protected while they’re doing vital work to help keep our river systems healthy,” she said.

“This new machine will be much more efficient and reliable than the retired harvester, allowing us to spend more time on the river removing the invasive weed species.”

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