Researchers seek ideas on stopping spread of harmful weed

Published 17 June 2009

annieResearchers at the University of New England have embarked on a project aimed at preventing the further spread of serrated tussock on the Northern Tablelands.

“Serrated tussock (Nassella trichotoma) is a real problem for sheep producers, as it has very little nutritional value,” explained Annie Schneider (pictured here), a postgraduate student at UNE who is studying this weed for her PhD degree. “One study has shown that sheep can actually die of starvation if there is too much serrated tussock in their diet.”

“With serrated tussock, prevention is definitely better than cure,” Ms Schneider said. “Once it has become established, it is costly and difficult to control.”

“We can avoid further losses to farm productivity and biodiversity by being careful not to spread the seeds of serrated tussock into new areas,” she continued. To help in achieving this aim, she and her supervisor, Professor Brian Sindel, have designed a survey that will inform them about current levels of serrated tussock infestation throughout the Northern Tablelands, and about land managers’ views on methods that can be used to prevent its spread onto unaffected land.

“We’re interested in learning what land managers think of the prevention methods that are mentioned in the survey – methods that are drawn from various serrated tussock management guides,” Ms Schneider said.

“People reading through the survey may get some new ideas about simple steps they can take to reduce the risk of their property becoming infested with serrated tussock,” she added.

She and Professor Sindel hope that the results of the survey will reveal opportunities for tackling the problem as well as giving them a picture of its size.

They will be sending the survey to landholders early in July. “If you receive this survey, please take the time to fill it out and return it to us using the ‘postage paid’ envelope that will be provided,” Ms Schneider said. “Your insight could well help others in the community deal with this issue.”

For more information on the survey, please contact Annie Schneider on (02) 6773 3075.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show Annie Schneider working with serrated tussock in a UNE glasshouse.