Putting a spotlight on Chilean Needle Grass

09th Nov 2021

More than 60 landholders from around the New England region attended an event at the Guyra Bowling Club last Thursday November 4th to learn more about the invasive plant, Chilean Needle Grass (CNG).
Professor Lewis Khan has been the project facilitator for a locally based Meat and Livestock Australia Producer Demonstration Site (MLA PDS) project run over 2016-2017 looking at four different control or management strategies.
“Understanding palatability was a key learning from this project,” said Lewis.
Lewis made the point that Chilean Needle Grass does have some positive characteristics for those landholders who have plant populations too high to control and must actively manage the plants to maintain farm productivity.
Chilean Needle Grass is a useful feed source over the growing season with a crude protein of up to 22% before seeding.
However, after seed set, animals will actively avoid grazing plants as digestibility plummets and feed value is low.
“You need to be clear about your primary purpose with your strategies to control or manage Chilean Needle Grass,” he said.
“Maximise your groundcover, and if you don’t have Chilean Needle Grass, do everything you can to keep it out - be vigilant and treat isolated patches,” he said.
Carol Harris is a Research Scientist at the Glen Innes Research and Advisory Station and has been involved in a number of CNG research projects on the Northern Tablelands.
Carol shared findings from studies on the impact management on seed bank production.
“With proactive management and high intensity rotational grazing, the number of seeds produced per square metre can be reduced,” said Carol.
Carol also shared plans for a new research project to start near Glen Innes in 2022 and the findings from a recent proof of concept study using essential oils for control.
Of key importance is the ability to identify the Chilean Needle Grass plants.
Guest speaker Trent McIntyre from New England Weeds Authority shared his experiences and practical information for identification and control.
The key identification characteristic is the corona or little ‘teeth’ where the awn joins the seed, making it very hard to identify prior to seed set.
If you need a hand to identify plants, staff from New England Weeds Authority or Local Land Services can visit your farm to assist in identification and provide advice on control or management strategies.
As co-hosts of the event, GLENRAC and Southern New England Landcare were very pleased with attendance and response, and offer landholders printed resources covering control and management strategies available at their offices in Glen Innes and Armidale respectively.
This event was supported by Nutrien Ag Solutions Guyra and Northern Tablelands Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Governments’ National Landcare Program and the NSW Government.

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