Skip to main content

Taking to the sky to tackle invasive weeds

Drone with a spray attachment spraying pesticide onto a weed-infested creek.
26 Feb 2024

An innovative approach to tackling invasive weeds clogging Gunbower Creek is set to reap environmental, recreation, and agricultural benefits.

The Victorian Government’s $100,000 investment has allowed North Central CMA and Goulburn-Murray Water to trial drone-spraying technology to tackle the invasive pale-yellow water lily in the creek.

Pale-yellow water lily is an invasive weed that reduces creek capacity for irrigation and water for environment delivery and restricts sections of the creek for recreation such as boating, fishing, and kayaking. 

It can also impact threatened native plant and fish species, including the critically endangered silver perch and the threatened golden perch and Murray cod.

North Central CMA Project Manager Amy Russell said the drone can hold 40 litres of fish and frog-friendly product and enables crews to spray weeds that are inaccessible from boats or the shore. 

“The community is behind our goal to reduce the impact pale-yellow water lily has on the creek and prevent it from entering nearby wetlands such as Reedy Lagoon,” she said.

“It’s a challenging weed to treat, and using a drone this year will be a big step forward.”

“This technology could prove invaluable to the management of pale-yellow water lily in the coming years.

North Central CMA and Goulburn-Murray Water have begun spraying around 80 kilometres of the creek between the National Channel and Koosndrook Weir, with the drone-spraying technology used in a trial area.

“Gunbower Forest is protected under the International Ramsar Convention, which makes the management of the bordering creek a key priority for us,” Ms Russell said.

“Gunbower Creek is important economically, culturally, and environmentally to this region, which is why managing pale-yellow water lily is so important.

“This drone trial will give us another important tool to tackle this invasive weed.”

Managing the weed in the creek will also prevent pale-yellow-water lily spreading into the Gunbower Ramsar site.

The spraying program is part of a $248 million investment by the Victorian Government to improve the health of waterways and catchments across regional Victoria.