African Feather Grass Control Guide

African feather grass tussock.  Photo: R. Blakers

Do's and Don'ts of African feather grass control

Do's

  • Plan your control program, this will save time and money in the long-run;
  • Remove small infestations by hand, large infestations using machinery - but make sure the soil is removed down to the level of the deepest rhizomes;
  • Pile the removed soil somewhere where it can be monitored for regrowth of the weed;
  • Use mechanical removal and repeated cultivation to eradicate large infestations on arable land;
  • Always visit treated sites the following season to check for regrowth; use follow up treatment as required until fully eradicated.

Don'ts

  • Don't spread African feather grass by failing to wash down machinery and equipment between sites;
  • Don't leave any rhizome material in the soil when removing tussocks; these will quickly regrow;
  • Don't expect heavy grazing to eradicate large tussocks;
  • Don't rely on just one treatment: follow up is essential


Spread of African feather grass

  • African feather grass can spread by seed or by rhizome fragments.
  • African Feather Grass produces large quantities of seed. The seed is easily transported by animals due to the barbed bristles on the seed husk. Seed can also spread short distances by wind, or in water, for example during periodic flooding of roadside channels.
  • Fragments of rhizome can be picked up and spread in soil and mud on machinery and implements.

Avoid the introduction of African feather grass

  • African feather grass is usually spread by small fragments of rhizome being picked up and moved in soil on machinery and tools.
  • All machinery and tools used around African feather grass must be carefully cleaned to prevent fragments of rhizomes being transported from the site to other areas.
  • See the Washdown Guidelines for Weed and Disease Control for detailed information on how to wash-down equipment and personnel to reduce the chance of spreading African feather grass.

Physical removal

  • Small African feather grass plants can be removed using a spade or mattock.
  • Ensure all soil is removed down to the level of the deepest rhizomes, as rhizome material left in the soil will quickly regenerate.
  • The removed soil should be thoroughly cleaned of all root and rhizome fragments, or piled in an area that can be easily monitored for regrowth.
  • Larger plants may need heavy machinery such as an excavator for removal of the whole plant.
  • Again, all soil down to the deepest rhizomes must be removed and piled in an area that can be easily monitored for regrowth.
  • Excavation can be used to reduce the size of an African feather grass infestation, allowing easier follow up with cultivation or herbicide.

Cultivation

  • Small African feather grass infestations on arable land can be controlled using mechanical removal and repeated cultivation of the soil.
  • Each cultivation breaks up the rhizome system and encourages the buds to sprout. If cultivations are repeated often enough, the rhizomes eventually die.
  • Cultivation may be carried out at any time of the year, however best results are achieved over summer.

Grazing

  • Heavy grazing pressure on African feather grass can reduce the number of seedlings and shoots arising from rhizomes. However, grazing will not eradicate the larger tussocks.

Chemical control

  • A number of herbicides are registered for use on African feather grass in Tasmania. Use the Herbicides for African Feather Grass Control link for more information.
  • On large plants, herbicide treatment is more effective if the bulk of the plant is removed by burning or slashing, then herbicide applied to the regrowth when it is approximately 400 mm high.

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