Moves on vel­vetleaf

Hamilton Metro News - - News -

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil has moved to a long-term con­tain­ment and erad­i­ca­tion pro­gramme of the vel­vetleaf pest plant, fol­low­ing a month-long oper­a­tion in­spect­ing 100 prop­er­ties.

The coun­cil has con­firmed new vel­vetleaf in­fes­ta­tions on 16 prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing eight from im­ported fod­der beet seed. Coun­cil pest plant of­fi­cers found no sign of vel­vetleaf on 70 prop­er­ties, but will be re­vis­it­ing them in spring/sum­mer. Vel­vetleaf had pre­vi­ously been dis­cov­ered in the Waikato in 2011.

“A key focus of our re­sponse has been on iden­ti­fy­ing as many prop­er­ties as pos­si­ble that might have in­fes­ta­tions so we can pre­vent fur­ther spread of this nasty pest,” said the coun­cil’s act­ing biose­cu­rity spokesman, Brett Bai­ley. “We’ve been talk­ing to landown­ers and a large num­ber of peo­ple in the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try to trace move­ments of ma­chin­ery and risk goods or prod­ucts, and iden­tify pos­si­ble path­ways to in­fes­ta­tion.

“These in­dus­tries have un­der­stood the ur­gency of the re­sponse and the risk to our re­gional and na­tional econ­omy.

“Through this work, we’ve been able to link in­fes­ta­tions to im­ported fod­der beet seeds, in­fested maize crops and maize silage, and un­clean ma­chin­ery. We’ve in­ves­ti­gated var­i­ous other path­ways to in­fes­ta­tion, in­clud­ing ma­nures from grain-fed an­i­mals. How­ever, the ev­i­dence is in­con­clu­sive and for some farms we may never be able to con­firm the orig­i­nal source,” Mr Bai­ley said.

He said the coun­cil is work­ing with af­fected landown­ers on in­di­vid­ual biose­cu­rity plans to pre­vent vel­vetleaf from spread­ing any fur­ther.

“Con­tain­ing and erad­i­cat­ing vel­vetleaf is go­ing to re­quire a longterm com­mit­ment from landown­ers, in­dus­try, stake­hold­ers, the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries and the coun­cil. Landown­ers and farm con­trac­tors, in par­tic­u­lar, have a key role to play in pre­vent­ing this pest’s spread and con­trol­ling vel­vetleaf on their own prop­er­ties.

“The plans we’re pro­duc­ing with landown­ers in­clude steps for plant re­moval, on­go­ing mon­i­tor­ing, and man­ag­ing path­ways around move­ment of crops, an­i­mals and ma­chin­ery to pre­vent the spread of this pest plant, while also en­abling farm­ers to con­tinue op­er­at­ing.”

Farm­ers can pro­tect their prop­er­ties:

In­sist all con­trac­tors prac­tise good weed hy­giene, clean­ing equip­ment before en­ter­ing the farm. If you have vel­vetleaf, pest plant of­fi­cers will work with you on a plan to con­tain it.

En­sure sup­ple­men­tary feed brought onto the farm is weed free.

En­sure ma­nures, ag­gre­gates, soil and sand are weed free.

Check feed crops to en­sure they are weed free.

Stand stock off before mov­ing them.

Pest plant of­fi­cers have in­for­ma­tion— 0800 BIOSEC (0800 246 732) or visit www.waika­tore­gion.govt.nz/vel­vetleaf

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