New Chilean needle grass site identified in Waipara

A new find of the pest plant Chilean needle grass (CNG) has been confirmed on a property in Waipara, North Canterbury in December.  This takes the total number of infestations in the region to 17.

The new infestation was identified by the land occupier, who called in the suspected sighting to Environment Canterbury.  Biosecurity officers conducted a site inspection, confirming that it was CNG.

Environment Canterbury principal resource management advisor biosecurity Laurence Smith said, “Biosecurity staff were on the property that same day 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 approximately 10 years ago, and was found in an area where the machine was washed down.

How Chilean needle grass spreads

CNG seeds are very 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,” said 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.”

We’re here to help

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.

For further information about Chilean needle grass, take a look at our managing plant pests page, and follow the Chilean Needle Grass Awareness Programme on Facebook.