New England Weeds Authority (NEWA) has diverged from the normal spray program to work on Coolatai Grass east of the Great Dividing Range.
With drought hitting the Northern Tablelands hard, dry conditions gave NEWA an opportunity to work on Coolatai Grass (Hyparrhenia hirta), which is widespread on roads, travelling stock routes and grazing lands in the north-eastern of the State.
As Coolatai is moves into private and public lands in the New England region, NEWA has a proactive approach to control, rather than fighting a rearguard action when a weed is firmly established in eastern fall areas.
It is less digestible and palatable than many native grass species, which are preferentially grazed leaving Coolatai Grass to eventually dominate.
Its limited value for grazing is far outweighed by the fact that it is so invasive and possessive of the areas it infests. Drought and fire tolerant, it rapidly responds to rain, its tussocks survive hot burns and dominate pastures over a range of soil types.
These characteristics give the species the ability to quickly flower and set seed when environmental conditions are favourable.
It is one of the few summer grasses capable of invading undisturbed natural ecosystems and is a major threat to natural biodiversity.
Coolatai Grass was thought to have been first introduced from South Africa to Queensland and northern NSW in the late 1800s, and in the 1950s for soil stabilization in the Coolatai area.
It is extremely drought resistant and grows longer into the cooler months than most other summer native grasses.
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