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Oberon Council Staff Get a Grip on Chilean Needle Grass

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Oberon Council Staff Get a Grip on Chilean Needle Grass

Mick Callan

There is no doubt that the Oberon district community’s awareness and management of noxious weeds has increased dramatically over the past couple of years. The ongoing challenge to control and manage the spread of noxious weeds, such as serrated tussock and blackberry has, in the main, been taken up by landholders of large, small and hobby farms alike.

However, there is another aspect to weeds management and that is the early detection of new invasive species that can have a dramatic and damaging effect on rural communities. One such species is Chilean Needle Grass, and it’s becoming a big problem with potentially devastating impacts. Chilean Needle Grass is a declared noxious weed as it affects both sown pastures and native grasslands by displacing more desirable species.  Heavy infestations can decrease summer productivity by as much as 50% and the long, sharp seeds can also cause injury to livestock and downgrade wool, skins and hides. 

The Upper Macquarie County Council’s Weeds Officer for the Oberon Local Government Area, Jill O’Grady, recently conducted a Chilean Needle Grass field day for Oberon Council’s Parks staff.  The training session is one part of an integrated program of weed control techniques to support the Central Tablelands Local Land Services and Environment & Waterways Alliance project to restore habitat through best practice noxious weed control along the Fish River at Hassall Park in O’Connell.

Staff from Oberon Council Park’s team were shown how to identify Chilean Needle Grass from other lookalikes as it is difficult to identify at certain times of the year and how best to prevent it’s spread through plant and equipment hygiene.  “Once the Park’s staff understood the damage this weed causes to landowners, the community and the environment they were eager to learn its distinguishing features and were fully engaged in understanding their roles in preventing its spread.  The area has now been treated by professional contract sprayers and will be regularly monitored for new germinations” commented Ms O’Grady.

Gillian Salmon from Oberon Council said “Oberon Council are delighted to be partnering with Upper MacquarieCounty Council and the Central Tablelands Local Land Services and Environment & Waterways Alliance to help raise awareness about best practice weed management. Chilean Needle Grass is a weed of national significance that can severely impact on the productivity of Oberon’s agricultural industries and on our stunning natural environment. Controlling this weed requires a ‘whole of community’ approach. Oberon Council are proud to be taking their part in managing Chilean Needle Grass and preventing its spread. We look forward to the next stage of the project involving the farming community and local schools”

Mick Callan the Project Support Officer from Environment & Waterways Alliance agrees.  "The Alliance and Central Tablelands Local Land Services place a great value in engaging with staff from Alliance Member Councils and providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to improve environmental outcomes within our region.  Partnering with agencies such as Upper Macquarie County Council allows us to bring a great wealth of knowledge and expertise to training events such as this Chilean Needle Grass Field Day event."

For assistance in identifying Chilean Needle Grass and control options download the NSW WeedWise App or contact your local Weeds Officer from The Upper Macquarie County Council on 6338 2875.