Putting a spotlight on Chilean Needle Grass

09th Nov 2021

GLENRAC and Southern New England Landcare co-hosted an information event in Guyra last Thursday 4th November. The event was well attended with over 60 participants in the audience to learn more about the invasive grass plant, Chilean Needle Grass (CNG).

At the event, guest speakers Trent McIntyre; New England Weeds Authority; Lewis Khan, University of New England and Carol Harris, NSW Department of Primary Industries shared their experiences from practical information for identification and control, to management for existing plant populations and current research projects looking at innovative control and management.

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. Key learnings from this project were understanding palatability is the key, be clear on what is your primary purpose with your strategies to control or manage CNG; maximise your groundcover; if you don’t have it, do everything you can to keep it out; be vigilant and treat isolated patches.

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. It 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.  

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 of land and grazing management on seed bank production, with proactive management with high intensity rotational grazing reducing the number of seeds produced per square metre. 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.

Importantly, in all presentations, is being able to identify the CNG plants. The key identification characteristic is the corona of little ‘teeth’ where the awn joins the seed. It is 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.

GLENRAC and Southern New England Landcare have printed resources covering control and management strategies available at our 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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