Parkinsonia aculeata (Parkinsonia) is listed as a C3 declared pest under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007 and is prohibited throughout the state of Western Australia. Originally thought to be from tropical America, this tree rapidly invades creeks, dams and rivers, with a single individual producing 5,000 to 13,000 seeds per year. Since 2012, Astron has been undertaking parkinsonia control in the Pilbara in coordination with the Pilbara Mesquite Management Committee and land owners. Two control field visits are undertaken each year with the second visit undertaken to ensure all parkinsonia have been treated effectively. Photo points are monitored annually to assess the effectiveness of control efforts.
Due to the large control area and difficult terrain, Astron strategically targets areas to be treated to maximise the effectiveness of the control program for the client. This includes using aerial imagery and electronic data capture to maximise productivity in the field.
Over time the number of parkinsonia has decreased across the survey area. As a result, Astron implemented an alternative method to traverse the large control area, increasing effectiveness, reducing the cost for the client and surveying a greater area. After undertaking the appropriate training, Astron staff used an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) to maximise productivity across the control area. The ATV proved to be extremely effective in covering large areas quickly. Use of the ATV increased efficiency by at least 25%, which resulted in cost savings to the client and less walking for the field team on the ground.
Maps depicting changes to parkinsonia populations have demonstrated the effectiveness of the program and are used to help develop recommendations for the following year. The Astron project team exceeded the client’s expectation, with large areas efficiently surveyed and controlled.