Invasive Ag pest found in Adelaide backyard

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The discovery of Mexican feathergrass was the result of careful reporting by members of the public, with the state government then inspecting the area and removing the pest.

Mexican feathergrass is a designated Category 1 plant under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019 and property owners must report any sighting of this pest to their local landscape office.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister David Basham said the facility owner’s cooperation in this case helped ensure the protection of native grasslands and agricultural pastures.

“With each plant potentially producing 70,000 to 100,000 seeds per year, which can be spread by wind, rain and animals, Mexican feathergrass poses a significant threat to the South Australian landscape,” said Minister Basham.

“For ranchers, since it is a low-protein, high-fiber grass that is inedible for storage, the pest would have a significant impact if the pest attacked pastures.

“The plant can cause health and welfare problems as seed heads tend to stick in the nose, lips and eyes of grazing cattle, and when eaten, the plant can form indigestible balls in the pit of cattle, sheep and goats.

“Mexican feathergrass is a hardy, drought-resistant species and poses a significant environmental threat because it is resistant to control through grazing and forms into dense stands that prevent the establishment of native plants or pastures.”

Mexican feathergrass was accidentally introduced to Australia when it was mislabelled and sold as an ornamental before it was recalled.

“Because of the Australian climate and landscape, it has the potential to spread to more than two-thirds of the continent.

“In the past 60 years, pests and weeds have cost South Australian land managers more than $ 4 billion, and we don’t want Mexican feathergrass to become another drag on the industry.

“Currently, Mexican feathergrass is not established in South Australia, with plant debris previously identified in cultivated gardens being planted prior to the national recall. However, the ongoing potential threat to Mexican feathergrass establishing itself in the wider landscape means that prompt reporting of sightings is vital. “

Any suspected sighting of the plant should be reported to the local landscape office immediately.


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