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Join the hunt for Chilean Needle Grass

Now’s the time of year when Council asks for your help to control the highly invasive pest plant, Chilean Needle Grass.

Marlborough District Council’s Senior Biosecurity Officer, Liam Falconer, says during Spring and Summer the needle grass flowers, which means it’s much easier to spot.

“Look out for its purple-tinged, spikey seed heads and its lime green colour. It is a sharp, angular grass, not soft or droopy like most other grasses,” Liam said.

“Over the next few months farmers and vineyard operators, along with Council staff and contractors, will be carrying out control work and compliance inspections in known infestation areas, but everyone can help by being aware of the risk posed by the grass and being alert to its presence.”

Council suggests that owners of lifestyle blocks, farms and vineyards check their property for infestations of Chilean Needle Grass and contact Council if they find any sign of the grass, as there is support available to control the plant in new areas.

“At this time of year the seeds can easily hitch a ride, especially if people are moving soil, machinery and stock. If you’re in an infested area it’s important to be aware of the risk and the regulations that apply.

“Chilean Needle Grass seeds spread easily as they cling to footwear and animal pelts. People walking in already affected areas can help ensure they’re not carrying seeds by checking their footwear and their dog’s coat,” he said.

If you think you’ve seen Chilean Needle Grass, please take a photo of it, record the location and email Council at: biosecurity@marlborough.govt.nz

There are helpful resources available on Council’s website, including a Smart Map with information on the status of the pest plant, where it has been found, photographs, and explanations of what can be done to deal with it. You can view the Smart Map here: https://bit.ly/31DEtRB

Chilean Needle Grass, a South American weed, was first discovered in Marlborough in the 1940s. It invades dryland pastures and can be carried on sheep’s wool, on machinery and in clothing. Its sharp seeds can penetrate animals causing blindness, deafness and abscesses in sheep.

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