Friday, February 23, 2007

Trash Old Medications with Cat Litter or Coffee Grounds

The US government is offering a new idea -- so here's a safety tip from your government: Trash those unwanted prescription drugs with kitty litter or coffee grounds to keep them from falling into the wrong hands -- and mouths.

New federal prescription drug disposal guidelines recommend mixing unused, unneeded or expired drugs with undesirable substances -- like cat litter or coffee grounds -- and tossing them in the trash in nondescript containers. Doing so should curb prescription drug abuse and protect lakes and streams from contamination, the White House and government health and environment officials said.

"Following these new guidelines will protect our nation's waterways and keep pharmaceuticals out of the hands of potential abusers," Environmental Protection Agency administrator Stephen L. Johnson said Wednesday.

Drugs should be flushed down the toilet only if the label says it's safe to do so, according to the guidelines. Some pharmacies also collect drugs for safe disposal. The government warned that abuse of prescription drugs is increasingly common among teens and young adults. Often those drugs are taken from the medicine cabinets of relatives or friends.

While flushing drugs down the toilet can stem that sort of abuse, it also can create environmental problems.

Recent U.S. Geological Survey studies have shown that a wide range of pharmaceuticals and other compounds survive wastewater treatment and later are discharged into lakes, streams and other bodies of water across North America. The USGS research found antidepressants and their byproducts, for example, are being released into the environment at concentrations that may affect aquatic life. As well as these products, it is also common that birth control prescription drugs can be flushed, or disposed of via the sewer system, as well as oestrogen enhanced urine, affecting the quality of wastewater, and there are some research studies that see this as a serious issue, due to environmental persistence of the chemicals . These results mirror similar results from Europe, and could be expected in some areas of Australia.

Be not flush old drugs down the loo........mix with an absorbent [ that is a critical issue] and into the garbage can, and ultimately the landfill. there are even some studies that your urine too [ another story, another day] for the garden!

White House prescription drug abuse information:

Friday, February 16, 2007

Slowdown tropical turf growth and save money

While many turf managers might remember the old growth regulators..........when they wore off, the grass then grew rapidly and caught up.........some newer products are very important to cost effectively manage turf growth and sward structure.

Probably most important among them is Primo [ trinexapac-ethyl] which is sold in several forms world wide, but only as a liquid, Primo Maxx in Australia.

With grasses growing VERY rapidly in the wet and hot months in the tropics, it is possible to use one or several sprays with Primo to improve growth management. Rates that can effectively provide 4-6 weeks growth reduction are economic, with possibilities of eliminating up to four or more weekly mowings, or if mowing is required for other reasons, the clippings can be markedly reduced. Primo is most effective if cutting height is low, rather than medium or high, and mowing one week after a spray also seems to offer improvements. Technique would seem to be:
1. Allow some leaf regrowth - 2-4 days
2. Spray
4. Mow again after approx 7 days

It must be said that best results come from areas with a reasonably uniform single species turf, so often some effort into weed management is required. Rates vary depending on the turf species, with couch and zoysia requiring much less than Bahia or carpet grass.

Several factors in the sward are affected, with height reduction accompanied by a more prostrate and denser appearance common plus improved root density and growth. This can improve nutrient uptake. Often a slightly darker green appearance is seen as well. As importantly, seedhead suppression is common, and as seedheads often drive the need to mow because of appearance, this alone can be a real winner.

Mowing in wet, boggy conditions is damaging to the turf and unpleasant for staff........using a product such as Primo allows a lot more management options, and can save $$.

We have had over 12 years experience with this growth regulator and can offer management assistance to implement a cost effective program.

Contact or phone 08 8948 1894

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Is your dam water valuable?

Is your dam water valuable?..... Stop it evaporating, before you use it with one of several new products that finally seem to be showing some cost effectiveness in open water storage.

The products are generally suitable for both domestic [including public utilities dams] and stock / irrigation water, in both large and small areas.

Aquatain is a silicon based product that is a silicone liquid and applied initially, then around every 2 weeks as a small top up, but this is partially weather dependent, while the other product Watersavr is a powder, normally applied daily. Aquatain forms a thin silicone layer on the surface, effectively preventing evaporation while the Watersavr also forms a monomer layer which binds at the surface that can break and reform.

Results from both indicate some real $$ savings in evaporated water from storage areas, with figures from Aquatain showing a gain of about 8 times the cost for the application. This will also be dependent on the value of the water saved, or the cost of replacing it, for example if used domestically and water needed to be carted in, as is the case in some areas of southern Australia.

While this is the wet season and water is plentiful, it is not always that way by August or October. These products may or may not be cost effective in the NT, as our water costs are rarely as high as many other areas. But they will be an option to ensure water lasts a bit longer in a paddock dam and that might just ensure better feed utilisation in the paddock.

Details of both products are on the internet at the following links:



As agricultural advisors we can assist you with developing a sensible water management program with either product.

GM crops - new studies

Impacts of GM/GE Crops Assessed
Two recent in-depth studies broadly assess the impacts to date of genetically modified/engineered crops: the first, from Switzerland, takes an ecological perspective, while the second considers the approaches of economic studies of GE crops as conducted in developing economies.
The Swiss Expert Committee for Biosafety commissioned a far reaching, science-based study that resulted in a comprehensive paper published in late 2006 examining and documenting "Ecological Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops, Experiences from Ten Years of Experimental Field Research and Commercial Cultivation."

Authors O. Sanvido, _et al_, primarily utilized peer-reviewed materials from scientific sources in an effort to address questions about GM crop impacts and effects on non-target organisms, soil ecosystems, gene flow from GM crops to wild relatives, GM crop invasiveness, impacts on management on pest organisms, and ecological benefits of GM crop cultivation.

Overall, the study concluded that available data do not provide any scientific evidence for harm to the environment attributable to commercial cultivation of GM crops. A minority of the Committee dissented from the study's conclusion.
Additionally, the study's authors state that, "the real choice is between GM crops and current conventional pest .... management practices, all possibly having positive and negative outcomes," and that a truly precautionary policy requires comparing "the risk of adopting a technology against the risk of not adopting it."
The 108-page document can be freely downloaded as a PDF file from or ordered from:
ART, Reckenholzstr. 191, CH-8046 Zurich, SWITZERLAND.

The second large study, also published in late 2006, is "Parables:
Applied Economics Literature About the Impact of Genetically Engineered Crop Varieties in Developing Economies." This work undertook an analysis of the methods employed to arrive at economic findings, as the methods themselves are clearly seen as influencing factors.
Published by the International Food Policy Research Institute
(IFPRI) as EPT discussion paper 158, the study concluded that, "findings of current case studies should not be generalized to other locations, crops, and traits" due to the relative short time frame of most analyses. Authors M. Smale, _et al_ note that "any particular variety, even if widely adapted, will perform with considerable variation across location and time."
The 102-page study concludes that, "the net economic impact of new crop varieties on society is not easily measured" in that no single method can sufficiently measure change, particularly where so many markets, production environments, and policies can dramatically shift from one year to the next.

Institutional and social contexts of technology introduction, the authors note, often have greater significance on impact direction and magnitude than the technology itself. Future studies on technology impact need to more critically assess effects in terms of labor, health, environment, equity, and poverty, the study's authors assert.

At download the full study, or order a copy from: IFPRI, 2033 K St., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1002, USA. Fax: 1-202-467-4439. Phone: 1-202-862-5600.

Both studies are a cold, factual examination of the issues and worth a read - skeptics and believers alike!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Carpet grass control - Monument does work - maybe

Monument herbicide has been used - probably for the first time in the NT - as a control option for sedges, carpet grass and annual grasses - on the main oval of a private school, and it has been very successful, so far.

Conditions for spraying were excellent, about 48 hours after mowing, with good soil moisture, and about 48 hours between spraying and first rain. The Monument was followed up by a DSMA spray in about 12 days. After three weeks carpet grass control was over 85%, although some was suppressed rather than killed outright. What remained was a few plants in formerly large patches, suitable for spot spraying or sprayed with a overall spray of further DSMA in a few weeks. Almost all sedges, annual grasses and many other perennial grasses including Chrysopogon acidulatus have been mostly eliminated. A follow up is often used, but may not be needed.

Because of the regular emergence of Mullumbimby couch, almost all year round, periodic use of DSMA will be needed to continue to reduce infestations to a lowered level, and so this will also continue to provide a good option to further reduce the carpet grass "spots" remaining, and any remnant grasses. Hopefully this will be able to be discontinued by the early dry season.

So........Monument may be a good option. Trials locally [ see photo - 8DAT showing the damage to narrow leaf carpet grass, the yellowish patch] have been impressive as a single pass option for weedy grasses in couch, as well as sedges. Locally, it is true that sedges tend to emerge most months of the year on irrigated areas, although peaking in the wet season. Get those wet season weeds, and big improvements can be made to reduce sedge levels, as there is much less emergence after April.

While not a perfect solution, using Monument has made a fantastic improvement to carpet grass in couch on this oval!

UPDATE - 24 February 2012

Carpet grass is Axonopus compressus or broad leaved carpet grass; narrow leaf carpet grass is Axonopus affinis just to ensure readers understand the issue.

Many curators / superintendents in north Australia still use glyphosate as a solution; metsulfuron may also be useful, especially on couch which is very tolerant of higher rates. It is a REAL issue in the wet tropical regions and especially broad leaved carpet grass thrives in wet soil / higher rain conditions, so better controlled irrigation management at a lower but adequate level can be part of the holistic management needed to get it under contol.