Bird-deterrent ryegrass

hris Pennell trialling a range of fescue and ryegrass cultivars

A ryegrass seed developed using endophytes acts as a bird deterrent, and has possible applications for airports, golf courses, kiwifruit orchards and vineyards.

The AvanexTM endophyte grass uses bioactives from an endophyte of a naturally occuring fungus, Neotyphodium, to act as a feeding deterrent. The grass triggers post-digestion feedback, where mild illness in birds alters their long-term food preference.

While birdstrike is a problem at airports around the world, the presence of birds also has a significant impact on the horticulture industry, destroying fruit crops and are a nuisance around sporting fields and waterways.

The product is also effective against insects. Scientist Chris Pennell has developed a technique to extract the water-soluble loline alkaloids, which have natural insecticidal properties, from the endophytic grass seed. He has already tested his hypothesis on lettuces, potatoes and cabbages against insects like aphids and grass grubs.