Saturday, December 2, 2023

Farmers urged to keep invasive pest out of Horizons

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Chilean needle grass would have a ‘hugely negative’ impact on farms.
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Horizons Regional Council is urging farmers to be vigilant to keep Chilean needle grass out of the region. 

Horizons environmental manager Craig Davey said Chilean needle grass is found in Hawke’s Bay so movement of stock, equipment, machinery and even gravel could bring it to the Horizons region.

“Farmers need to know the likely pathways of spread to their properties as this pest plant will have a hugely negative impact on farms within much of the region,” Davey said.

“Chilean needle grass is extremely difficult to remove once it establishes in an area.

“Some of the problems experienced when needle grass is present are the inability to graze paddocks for up to five months of the year, and the downgrading of pelts, meat or wool. The seeds are needle sharp with backwards-facing bristles and can drill through fleece and into muscle, which can cause painful abscesses for animals. 

“To date Chilean needle grass has not been found in the Horizons Region, but we want farmers and contractors to be aware that precautions need to be taken to keep it out – if you think you’ve found it, we want to know straight away.”

Davey said any mowing or soil-engaging equipment, machinery and vehicles used in the Hawke’s Bay’s Chilean needle grass controlled area and moved into the Tararua or Rangitīkei districts needs to be washed before being used to stop the spread of Chilean needle grass. 

“It can also be spread by animals and people, so caution needs to be taken when moving from areas contaminated by Chilean needle grass.

“Chilean needle grass has erect tussock-like perennial grass that can grow up to 1m in height with purple tinged, spiky heads and lime green leaves.

“When it is seeding between October and March, seeds have a sharp needle-like tip with a long twisting awn and have backward-pointing bristles, which make them hard to remove once they are embedded.

“If you think you’ve found Chilean needle grass on your property, machinery, or would like to know about source areas and clean down advice please call our pest plant team on freephone 0508 800 800.”

To find out more about Chilean needle grass visit 

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