New Chilean needle grass site identified at Waipara

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By ROBYN BRISTOW

Chilean needle grass (CNG) has been found on a property in Waipara, North Canterbury, taking the total number of infestations in the region to 17.

The new infestation was identified by the land occupier and confirmed as Chilean needle grass by Environment Canterbury biosecurity officers.

Environment Canterbury principal resource management adviser biosecurity Laurence Smith says biosecurity staff were on the property immediately to establish the extent of the infestation and to control the plants before they set seed.

“This involved removing seed heads and spraying the plants with herbicide.”

Over the coming weeks, a search will be done of surrounding properties to check for signs that the infestation has spread beyond the property boundary.

It is likely the CNG arrived at the property via a digger about 10 years ago, and was found in an area where the machine was washed down.

CNG seeds are sharp and they spread by attaching to anything that brushes past them, then dislodging at a new location.

The most likely culprits for transferring CNG seeds are machinery, vehicles, stock, hay and people (for example, on footwear or clothing). The seeds are not easily windborne.

“Our team is continuing to work with the landowner to identify other properties that the digger may have gone to after the work was completed at the affected property,” says Mr Smith.

“We very much appreciate the land manager’s vigilance in spotting the CNG, and for notifying us so quickly.

“We could provide immediate support on the ground to control the plants and will work with the landowner on an ongoing basis to minimise the impact of the infestation and prevent further spread.”

CNG is an invasive pasture pest that reduces crop yields, causes animal welfare issues and places some restrictions on infested farms, such as not being able to make and distribute hay outside of their own property.

If you suspect you have found CNG, please contact Environment Canterbury immediately on 0800 324 636.

“Please don’t try tackle the problem alone – we can provide resources and support to affected landowners and offer experience in how best to manage infestations,” says Mr Smith.