A GRASS that deters birdlife is poised to find major success throughout the world, particularly with airports.
The avian deterrent grass, created by New Zealand company Grasslanz Technology Limited, is being commercialised by PGG Wrightson Turf.
It recently won the Australasian DuPont Innovation Award for Performance Materials, which recognises the commercialisation of outstanding science and technology in Australasia.
The grass will be marketed under the brand name Avanex and developed by AgResearch.
The secret behind the grass’ bird deterrent ability is a natural fungus (endophyte) that lives in the grass and produces chemicals that make birds feel sick when ingested, but does not harm them.
The endophytic grass also reduces insect numbers, thus making the area less attractive to insect-feeding birds. The birds are deterred from flocking in grassed areas.
It has been effective in reducing bird numbers at several New Zealand airports thus minimising the risk of bird collisions with aircraft.
It has a potential for use in airports around the world, as well as orchards, sports fields and golf courses, in temperate environments.
In accepting the award on behalf of Grasslanz Technology, business development manager for the Southern Hemisphere Bruce Belgrave, said it was important to acknowledge that this innovation has been the result of a team effort involving Dr Chris Pennell, inventor and scientist with AgResearch Limited, as the inspiration behind the innovation; Christchurch International Airport, which invested in the development and allowed the first trials of the innovation on an airport; PGG Wrightson Seeds; and foundation for Arable Research, which also invested in its development.
Cameron Henley, business manager for PGG Wrightson Turf said the product held significant safety benefits for airports and sports facilities worldwide.
“We are proud to be a part of the development of this exciting technology and to bring Avanex to the market,” he said.
PGG Wrightson Turf is an industry leader in the Australasian turf seed market.
“These products have a natural fit in habitat modification surrounding airfields where they discourage both plant feeding birds and insect feeding birds, however they also work extremely well in sporting fields and golf courses, deterring a wide range of potentially damaging grass eating insects,” Mr Henley said.
The grasses that carry these endophytic properties are ideally suited to large areas of Australia, particularly the cooler temperate regions where perennial ryegrass and tall fescue is found.