20 May 2014

Vigilance required for nassella tussock

2:25 pm on 20 May 2014

Canterbury Regional Council is urging farmers to keep on top of a persistent pest plant that could spread through the region if it's not controlled.

Nassella tussock, a South American weed, isn't the problem it was in the 1950s and 1960s when it was caused serious economic harm by invading productive pasture.

But it's still found on more than 1300 properties in Canterbury.

It is the landowners' responsibility to control the weed by grubbing it out before it seeds.

And the regional council's principle biosecurity advisor Laurence Smith says there's a dwindling pool of contractors to do that work.

"We're working with the community and letting them know that one way of managing the reduction in the number of contractors is to spread the load of the nassella control work and instead of having that bottleneck in the spring period, consider grubbing earlier, in the late autumn and through the winter."

He said the problem is contained to the areas that have been affected in the last 10 or 20 years and although there has been some spread to new properties, particularly in the South Canterbury area, all in all the population is staying relatively stable.

Mr Smith says there are only about 10 to 12 contractors carrying out nassella control work in Canterbury now.

Nassella tussock is related to another South American pest, Chilean needle-grass which is also found in Canterbury, as well as Marlborough and Hawke's Bay.