Bundaberg Landcare Project Officer Maureen Schmitt is concerned about the rapid spread of giant rat’s tail grass in the region.
Bundaberg Landcare Project Officer Maureen Schmitt is concerned about the rapid spread of giant rat’s tail grass in the region. Max Fleet

Pest of the paddocks relishes

THE persistent rain over the past few weeks has encouraged the growth of a scourge that lurks in the paddocks of graziers across the state.

Giant Rat’s Tail grass, an import from Africa, is among the pests relishing the wet weather and taking the opportunity to spread into new areas.

Bundaberg Landcare project officer Maureen Schmitt said the problem with the grass was that it contained high levels of silica.

“When cattle eat it, it wears their teeth down until they can’t graze,” she said.

Ms Schmitt said she recommended anyone with the grass on their property should cut the seed heads off, put them in a plastic bag and take them to the tip.

“Then hit it with a herbicide,” she said.

Ms Schmitt said the seeds could be spread by slashers slashing grass on the side of a road, and they also stuck to the hair of cattle and established themselves when they were moved to a new paddock.

The tough grass out-competes native grasses, and in the worst cases supplants them entirely.

“It’s a very nasty grass that gets quite tall, and it’s quite aggressive and produces thousands and thousands of seeds,” Ms Schmitt said.

She said it was a common sight in the Bundaberg area.

Bundaberg Regional Council natural resource management portfolio Danny Rowleson said the council was trying to co-ordinate action with the community to manage the grass.

“It affects enormously the viability of farm land, and can also affect adjacent properties,” he said.

Cr Rowleson said the council was ready to help landholders with guidance and advice, and with access to low-cost trailer mounted spray equipment.

Strategies landholders could use included not moving cattle during wet weather because the seeds were sticky and could cling to their coats or feet.

Vehicles and machinery should also be cleaned before leaving infested areas.



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