Moves on velvetleaf
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