Tasmanian weed control trial underway just in time for spring sowing

Glamorgan-Spring Bay

The weed serrated tussock, or Nassella trichotoma, is a big problem for farmers on the East Coast of Tasmania because it’s drought resistant and overtakes pastures, having a significant impact on the carrying capacity and agricultural return of the land during already challenging times.

Funded by the Australian Government’s Communities Combating Pest and Weed Impacts During Drought Program, Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council have started a serrated tussock control program.

The weed has no nutritional value to livestock due to its high fibre and low protein content. If grazed, it can end up as an undigested ball in the stomach of the animal, cause a loss of condition and in some extreme cases starvation. Serrated tussock also smothers desirable pasture species, rendering pastures incapable of supporting livestock.

It is a difficult plant to treat and has a deep root system. During drought, many farmers do not have the time or money.

Regional Recovery Officer for Tasmania Holly Hansen joined Glamorgan-Spring Bay Council’s Project Officer Amanda Brookes and participants to see how the control program is going. Amanda is working with local farmers to renovate pastures that have been impacted by serrated tussock by re-sowing with a mixture of perennial pasture species that are resistant to the chemical used to treat the weed.

Most farmers in the area are about to do spring sowing in previously infested tussocks for the first time, with one trial participant seeing some encouraging initial results after re-sowing using a recommended mix from a local agronomist.