Biosecurity Tasmania is managing the spread of nassella grass weeds

MANAGING WEED SPREAD: Paddock with serrated tussock. Picture: DPIPWE/Biosecurity Tasmania.
MANAGING WEED SPREAD: Paddock with serrated tussock. Picture: DPIPWE/Biosecurity Tasmania.

Biosecurity Tasmania is delivering a project to manage and control nassella grass weeds under the Established Pest and Weeds Program, a joint initiative between the state and federal governments.

This project works closely with local governments, land management agencies and private landowners to identify the weeds and build upon control efforts through a targeted extension program.

Areas containing outlying weed populations is our focus and we aim is to increase awareness amongst those landowners within the core infestations, to prevent the spread of these weeds into uninfested areas.

Serrated Tussock, Chilean needle grass and Texas needle grass (together, known as nassella grass weeds) are environmental weeds found on mainland Australia and in Tasmania.

Similar to its mainland impacts, serrated tussock poses a threat to Tasmania’s native grasslands and livestock grazing areas.

Although present for many years in Tasmania and established in the north and south of the state, landholders can help reduce serrated tussock spreading further.

Chilean needle grass and Texas needle grass are currently found in Tasmania’s south east and reducing the risk of their further movement is also important.

The nassella grass weeds are regarded as major environmental weeds due to their invasiveness, potential for spread and social, economic and environmental impacts.

Being similar in appearance to many native tussock grasses, these weeds may go unnoticed in pastures and native grasslands until significant infestations have developed. The needle-like seed heads of these weeds can also cause injury to pets and livestock, as well as potentially contaminating meat products.

Nassella grasses require long-term management and a community/regional approach. Biosecurity Tasmania will be working closely with landowners to assist them in preventing the spread of the weeds through this project.

If you suspect that you have these weeds on your land familiarise yourself with how to distinguish them from native grasses; this is best seen during the summer months when the plants are in seed.

Movement of stock, machinery and forage contaminated with seed are the main ways by which nassella grasses are spread.

Good hygiene practices, including clean-down of machinery and equipment and sourcing clean soil, sand and gravel are very important in preventing further spread.

Controlling the movement of livestock from infested to clean areas is vital as well as stopping seed movement within the property.

When buying hay, stock feed and crop and pasture seed, enquire where it was produced to ensure it did not come from areas known to be infested with nassella grasses.

Once a paddock has developed a high level of infestation the large persistent seedbank will make management difficult.

Small, newly established infestations can be controlled with persistence and a combination of chemical and manual control.

Nassella grass weeds look very similar to native grasses. Report suspected plants to DPIPWE on 6165 3255 or jarrah.vercoe@dpipwe.tas.gov.au

For more information visit: www.dpipwe.tas.gov.au/weeds