Grasslanz's bird-deterring turf attracts international interest

Last year Palmerston North biotech company Grasslanz Technology picked up the gong for most innovative product in agritech at the Hi-Tech awards – a grass that grows fungus that makes birds feel queasy when they digest it and deters them from returning. PGG Wrightson Turf is marketing the product and says it's now on the verge of going global.

Last year Palmerston North biotech company Grasslanz Technology picked up the gong for most innovative product in agritech at the Hi-Tech awards – a grass that grows fungus that makes birds feel queasy when they digest it and deters them from returning. PGG Wrightson Turf is marketing the product and says it's now on the verge of going global.

Airport consultants and turf specialists from Europe, the US, Canada, China and Australia are visiting New Zealand to learn about the application and usage of the seed and to see it in action at Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland Airports as well as various sports grounds.

The company says initial trials at airports have shown a significant reduction in bird numbers, some as much as up to 70-80 percent.

“This is the only deterrent grass in the world at the moment, and it is one of the few permanent deterrents that can be used at the airport. Basically, we’ve made a restaurant that the birds don’t want to eat at, so they’ll go somewhere better," said PGG Wrightson Turf's Mark Shaw.

“We’re aiming to speed up the adoption of avian deterrent grass technology by providing accredited consultants in which airports can have confidence, and influential academics and regulators will be able to speak confidently on the product."

Attendee Tim Lodge from Agrostis, an English turf consultancy company, says the fact that the technology is a concentration of a natural fungus will allay any environmental concerns people may have.

"I think it certainly be adopted by airfields, as it’s a great technology.”

There are two variations, both branded as ‘Avanex Unique Endophyte Technology’: Jackal, for the aviation industry and Colosseum, used in sports and amenity turf areas.

Sam Livesey, business analyst at Grasslanz in Lincoln, said the technology had potential in many areas.

“The endophyte technology we’ve pioneered here could have worldwide applications in aviation, sports fields, parks, golf courses and orchards in temperate environments,” he said.