NSW's first case of pasture dieback found in our region
THE first NSW case of pasture dieback has been identified on the state's North Coast.
The illness kills sown and native summer-growing grasses, and livestock avoid grazing these areas, making them unproductive.
Pasture dieback appears to be the result of a complex interaction of multiple contributing factors, including environmental conditions, but no clear reason has been identified yet.
NSW DPI pasture systems development officer, Sarah Baker, said it's important to identify where pasture dieback is occurring to determine its spread and impact.
"We aim to provide producers with the information they need to understand, recognise and manage the condition," Ms Baker said.
"Pasture dieback causes summer growing grasses to turn yellow and red, become unthrifty and eventually die.
"Cases of suspected pasture dieback were reported during the 2018-19 summer, but with drought masking the condition, confirmation was impossible at the time.
"Recent rainfall has assisted us in identifying dieback, which previously had been found only in Queensland."
It has been estimated the affected area in Queensland is at least 200,000 hectares and could cover up to 4.4 million hectares, with the cause still to be confirmed.
While control options remain dependant on identification of the cause, producers can continue to maintain production with broadleaf species, including legumes and brassicas, which are not affected by dieback.
Re-sowing perennial grasses into dieback-affected areas is not recommended.
Annual winter-growing forages, including oats and dual-purpose cereals, can help fill winter feed requirements.
NSW DPI is working with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and industry, through Meat & Livestock Australia, to explore the cause of the condition.
As researchers work to better understand pasture dieback, including investigations of insect involvement, NSW DPI is developing options for future management.
Producers should contact the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) or the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 if they suspect their pasture has the condition.
More information is available from the NSW DPI website.