Council’s ‘Weeding out’ campaign has aimed to share important information on our region’s priority (unwanted) weeds. For our final instalment, we’re focusing on African Lovegrass. Last week our focus was on Blackberry.
As we head into the warmer months, Snowy Monaro Regional Council is calling on all community members to get to know our region’s priority weeds so we can understand how to play our part to protect our environment, help our farmers and support our community.
The impact of weeds on natural vegetation can be devastating and is estimated to cost the NSW economy about $1.8 billion annually (NSW Department of Industry, 2018).
What is African Lovegrass?
African Lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) is a perennial grassy weed that grows in clumps up to 1.2m tall. It is native to Southern Africa and while it is now the dominant pasture species in parts of NSW and the Snowy Monaro region, it is yet to establish in many areas. Significant resources are invested into protecting these areas from invasion.
African Lovegrass occurs in townships, along roadsides, in bushland areas and on public and privately owned land. It invades native and introduced pastures and quickly dominates a pasture if not managed. It was accidentally introduced into Australia before 1900 and its distribution has rapidly expanded since, particularly in recent decades and notably after periods of extended drought. African Lovegrass thrives on acidic, sandy soils with low fertility. It is heat and drought tolerant. Frost can damage it but it regrows in warmer weather. There are also some native Lovegrass (Eragrostis) species found in Australia.
Why is African Lovegrass a problem?
• It is highly invasive and quickly crowds out native plants as well as useful pasture.
• Agricultural production can be significantly disadvantaged in areas with heavy infestations of African lovegrass, requiring increased investment in pasture renovation and supplementary winter feeding
• When mature, African lovegrass forms a dense monoculture with little grazing value. On the Monaro, it becomes frost affected and is dormant in winter, offering no grazing value
• It is a prolific producer of seed and outcompetes native and improved pasture in many conditions
• African lovegrass seeds are spread in contaminated fodder, on bicycles, vehicles and equipment and by native animals and livestock
• Water from ground run-off and flood events can easily transport seeds downstream and across the landscape
• It is highly flammable when dry and dense infestations pose a major fire hazard to infrastructure and communities
What can you do?
To reduce the chance of African Lovegrass establishing you can:
• maintain strong, competitive pastures and avoid unnecessary soil disturbance
• avoid introducing hay, grain, or silage from known African lovegrass areas
• monitor vehicle parking areas and livestock feeding areas for germinations of new weeds
• restrict animal and vehicle movements from infested areas into clean paddocks
• quarantine new stock in an area that can be easily monitored and treated for germinating plants
• clean vehicles, mowers and machinery before coming onto your property
• revegetate bare ground and disturbed areas
• Learn to identify and effectively control African Lovegrass
• Search your property, driveway and tracks for new germinations of African Lovegrass
• Monitor utilities easements and high traffic areas for emerging weeds
• If you have a small number of plants to control, remove the seed heads before digging out or spraying
• Control mature plants year round, with extra effort in spring before flowering
• Monitor and treat seedlings, particularly around summer storm periods. Untreated plants will rapidly mature and produce viable seeds
• Regularly monitor treated areas for new germinations. Some seeds remain viable for up to 17 years
• Download the free NSW WeedWise app for detailed information on how to identify and manage local priority weeds https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/weeds
• Visit Council’s website to understand how we can help you with weed management https://www.snowymonaro.nsw.gov.au/140/Biosecurity-and-Weeds