DairyNZ’s Taranaki regional leader, Katrina Knowles, says the annual summer grass became prevalent along roadsides in north Taranaki about four years ago.
DairyNZ is working with regional and district councils, the NZ Transport Agency, Federated Farmers, AgResearch and roading contractors to increase awareness of YBG and the need for a community-wide effort to control its spread.
“Timing of spraying and mowing of the roadside verges is an important part of managing the spread of yellow bristle grass,” says Katrina. “Teaming up with councils and other organisations has given us more momentum and a bigger reach so we can achieve more.
“It’s not only dairy farmers that need to take action. It’s essential to get all rural property and lifestyle block owners onboard too.”
Taranaki Regional Council’s environment services manager Steve Ellis says they have been working with the group to identify ways to control roadside spread.
“Roading contractors have done a great job identifying the worst-affected areas so they can be mapped and shared with the public,” says Steve.
“By teaming up with different organisations we’ve been able to get messages out through multiple networks.”
Field days increase awareness
DairyNZ and AgResearch have been running field days over the last three years to educate farmers, rural professionals and contractors on the management and control of YBG.
Over 370 people have attended the field days, including Tikorangi dairy farmer, Tony Penwarden.
“Progress has been made, but there’s still a way to go to keep on top of it,” says Tony. “The field days and yellow bristle grass ute guide have been invaluable in increasing awareness and farmers’ ability to identify yellow bristle grass in the early stages.”
To control YBG on his farm, Tony has a map identifying problem areas – both past and present.
“These at-risk areas are checked regularly and we’ve found being proactive makes a big difference," says Tony. "We’ve found paddocks previously in maize are more likely to be affected by yellow bristle grass.
“In maize crops we target-spray using a selective spray. On the roadside we use a glyphosate spray, and on pasture with thick infestations we use Puma S or completely renew pasture.
“We also make sure all hay and maize coming onto the farm is inspected.”
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy February 2015