Field Horsetail

NZ Landcare Trust launched this community driven project in July 2013, which aims to adopt a scientific approach to the control of Field Horsetail. Funding for the 3 year initiative comes from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF).

The MPI Biosecurity website defines Field Horsetail as a perennial fern ally which if eaten in large quantities is poisonous to horses and has a detremental affect on the condition of cattle and sheep. It also spoils hay, reducing its value on-farm. It grows up to 80cm tall, but dies back in winter. It prefers damp, open ground, particularly along stream and riverbanks, where sandy soils provide perfect conditions for roots to penetrate more than 3 metres deep. While it spreads by rhizomes and small tubers, it is extremely difficult control. From a farmers perspective this makes it a highly undesirable pest plant.

The Lower Rangitikei Horsetail Control Group (LRHCG), whose members come from the local farming community, NZ Landcare Trust and Horizons Regional Council, successfully applied to SFF for $316,150 to investigate and test biological control options. NZ Landcare Trust is managing the project, with numerous organisations and lanadowners providing co-funding. Horizons Regional Council, Landcare Research and AgResearch are all providing technical Field Horsetail information to assist the project.

This funding will enable LRHCG to contract Landcare Research to carry out investigations to identify what bugs will eat or kill horsetail, test they are safe and then hopefully release them onto farms within the Region. Ultimately this project has the potential to benefit farmers and landowners nationwide.

Further information is available from NZ Landcare Trust Regional Coordinator Alastair Cole:

  • 06 359 3700


Latest - Movie clips help get the message across.


Field Horsetail - Overview


Field Horsetail - Farm field-day and chemical trials


New Project Resources.

Two new documents are available to help drive this project forward. Firstly an information flyer designed to increase awareness of the growing threat of Field Horstail and highlight what this project is about. Secondly an important cash confirmation form that provides landowners with a clear method of pledging financial support for this work. Both documents can be accessed below:


Field Horsetail Identification.

A number of people have expressed an interest in information that will help them to identify Field Horsetail.

Horizons Regional Council and AgResearch have created a useful booklet that will help - Weeding out Field Hosetail >