Council’s ‘Weeding out’ campaign through to the end of the year aims to share information on our region’s priority weeds. This week we’re focusing on Chilean Needle Grass as our weed of the week.
As we head into the warmer months, Snowy Monaro Regional Council is calling on all community members to get to know our region’s unwanted (priority) weeds so we can understand how to play our part to protect our environment, help our farmers and support our community.
The impact of weeds on natural vegetation can be devastating and is estimated to cost the NSW economy about $1.8 billion annually (NSW Department of Industry, 2018).
What is Chilean Needle Grass?
As the name suggests, Chilean needle grass is native to South America. In Australia, it is a Weed of National Significance. Chilean needle grass is a highly invasive, perennial, tussock grass and considered a Priority Weed in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council area.
It is a common weed throughout much of south eastern NSW where it dominates native and introduced pastures, roadsides and disturbed areas. While it has become more prevalent locally in recent years, Chilean needle grass is yet to gain a foothold in the Snowy Monaro region.
Why is Chilean Needle Grass a problem?
• It is highly invasive, producing both conventional seed heads as well as stem seeds at nodes under the leaf sheath. Seeds remain viable in the ground for many years. The persistent seed bank makes Chilean needle grass extremely difficult to control.
• It out-competes and dominates both native vegetation and improved pasture reducing carrying capacity and biodiversity
• Adult plants are long-lived and very hardy
• It is very difficult to identify in grazed paddocks and can be confused with native Spear grasses, Danthonia and Fescue
• When mature it has little grazing value
• It can injure animal eyes whilst grazing
• It can affect meat quality
• Seeds penetrate the skin of sheep causing irritation and reduction of hide value
How does it spread?
Animals, vehicles, and machinery spread Chilean Needle Grass seeds. The hairs at the sharp end of the seed anchor onto wool or fur. Seeds can stay attached to animals for months.
Hay baled from paddocks with Chilean needle grass may contain seeds that then spread in the fodder. Seeds are dispersed along waterways in floodwater and runoff.
What can you do?
• Identification is key - learn how to identify and control Chilean Needle Grass
• Contact Council if you have any questions regarding Chilean Needle Grass or any other weeds on your property
• Long-term control aims to stop the needle grass from seeding and to reduce the soil seed bank
• Control options include crop rotation, pasture management and herbicide application
• Early detection and removal is vital. Seed is long-lived in the soil and produced in large quantities, so preventing seeding is critical
• Control any plants found before they set seed to prevent further infestation
• Keep livestock away from seeding plants
• Restrict animal movement from infested areas into clean paddocks
• The best control strategy is to keep Chilean Needle Grass off the property.
• Avoid purchasing fodder from areas with known Chilean Needle Grass infestations. Ensure purchases of fodder, produce, stock and soils are free of weed matter.
• Download the free NSW WeedWise app for detailed information on how to identify and manage local priority weeds. https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/weeds
• Visit Council’s website to understand how we can help you with weeds management. https://www.snowymonaro.nsw.gov.au/140/Biosecurity-and-Weeds
• Visit the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) website for information on weed control methods. https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/weeds/weed-control
Contact Snowy Monaro Regional Council if you have any questions regarding weeds on your property or in your neighbourhood. Call 1300 345 345 to be connected to our Biosecurity Officers who specialise in weed management.