Maffra Broadening Horizons group tackles weeds in irrigation channels

Southern Rural Water is a proud ‘Broadening Horizons’ partner with Maffra Secondary School, as our main office is in Maffra.

Last year, our Maintenance Supervisor for the Macalister Irrigation District Peter Miller worked with a group of Maffra Secondary School boys who were interested in alternative ways to kill the weeds which build up in irrigation channels and slow water flow.

At the moment, Peter Miller’s maintenance team at Southern Rural Water drains the channels and, once a year, applies a potent weed killer to contain the problem weeds. Occupational Health and Safety guidelines must be followed carefully to protect staff and the environment.

The boys had seen a short film on YouTube showing how UVC (short wave ultra violet radiation) was being tested in the United States to provide a safer and more efficient way to kill the weeds, even through water.

John Paoluccio has mounted UV lights to the base of a boat and is using this to test weed control in Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada, United States of America. Modesto engineer uses UV light to kill weeds in Lake Tahoe 

The Broadening Horizons boys were interested in this new technology and whether it could be used in a similar way to kill weeds in channels. They did further investigation and presented their project.

Peter Miller then talked about the idea to Southern Rural Water’s Environmental Officer Ben Howes who, on investigating further, found there were similar trials in Australia with the use of microwaves to kill submerged weeds. Ben has now taken this up as a long-term project and will liaise with Melbourne University and Goulburn-Murray Water to follow the results.

Peter Miller said “These boys are just beginning secondary school and yet they came up with an idea we had not heard about. It is exciting to think that we may be able to phase out the use of herbicides – reducing risk to the environment and my staff – and trace that back to our association with Broadening Horizons.”

Posted in ,