8 Apr 2013

New anti-bird strike grass attracting world interest

6:33 am on 8 April 2013

Two new grasses developed by AgResearch scientists to reduce the risk bird strike around airports and insect damage at sports grounds are starting to attract serious international interest.

The grasses contain a special endophyte, or natural fungus that makes them unpalatable to insects and birds.

Bird strikes at airports cost the aviation industry more than a billion dollars a year in damage to aircraft and in deterrence measures.

Trials of a grass developed specifically for use at airports have shown it can significantly reduce the number of birds in areas where it's grown.

Sam Livesey, of Grasslanz Technology, which has commercialised the grasses, said airport representatives as well as turf specialists from Europe, North America, China and Australia who came to New Zealand to check the new grasses recently, are now keen to try them out.

He said the company is now in the process of setting up large scale trials potentially looking at JFK Airport in the United States, as well as Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick airports in England.

Mr Livesey said Melbourne airport already has a small area sown in the bird-deterrent grass and is looking to increase that.