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African lovegrass threat

On Saturday 14 November, a group of interested local landholders gathered together to learn about the threat that the weed African lovegrass poses to our local farmland and natural environment.

The Yass Area Network of Landcare Groups, with support from South East Local Land Services, held a workshop to help local landholders and community members learn more about the weed.

A terrific line-up of guest speakers presented throughout the day. Peter Davis, Monaro farmer and holistic grazing manager, spoke about the threat that African lovegrass poses to productive pastures. 

Due to African lovegrass die back over winter months, its large tussock growth form and associated deep roots, it can pose a major fire risk in winter. Peter showed a photo of a control burn of African lovegrass in July, and the flame height was three times higher than the fire truck in the photo.

Alison Elvin from Natural Capital Pty Ltd, spoke about the identification of African lovegrass, and demonstrated how it is different from other similar grasses.

Alison also spoke about alternative methods of control of the grass, which would be particularly suitable to smaller farms.

Sue Howieson, a grazier from the ACT, talked to the group about the on-farm reality of dealing with African lovegrass. She spoke of her experiences in controlling it, and the difficulty of preventing it from invading her property from the Murrumbidgee River corridor.

The group spent some time in the paddock learning more about identifying African lovegrass on farm, and had a demonstration from Damian Minehan from the Southern Slopes Noxious Plants Authority, on how to calibrate equipment for chemical spraying to ensure the correct rate of chemical is used.

Warren Schofield, Cooma Shire Weeds Control Officer, spoke about the importance of targeting control efforts where they will do the most good, to make the most of limited resources. Warren also reinforced the message about the threat that African lovegrass presents to some of our most precious resources – our natural environment including the endangered Natural Temperate Grassland, and the land we rely on for income, food production and leisure.

To finish the day, Dr Robert Godfree, Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO, spoke about the current and potential distribution of African lovegrass. Robert's talk also covered the different forms, where it came from, and where it might end up as a result of climate change.

The day was a great success, and attendees went away ready to have a close look at their paddocks, and share information with their Landcare groups and neighbours.