Ireland, often a source of skilled farm machinery operators for rural contractors in New Zealand, is facing even worse driver shortages than NZ.
This is the message from Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet.
Levet is reminding contractors about the importance of biosecurity and machinery hygiene practices on, and between farms, in controlling the spread velvetleaf and says rural contractors have an important role to play in this.
"Contractors need to be conscious of the potential of spreading velvetleaf when moving between properties, or between areas of the same property, and to take responsibility in managing these risks," he says.
Velvetleaf plant seeds can be spread by the movement of vehicles, machinery, feed or stock. It can also spread to new areas of the same property, between neighbouring properties, or even between regions.
Levet says by implementing some simple biosecurity practices rural contractors can help protect the spread of unwanted pest plants such as velvetleaf.
"Farmers and other professional operators in the rural sector like contractors need to pull together to help protect our agricultural sector from the spread of velvetleaf and other pests. I just want to remind rural contractors to stay vigilant and keep up sound biosecurity practices."
Levet says RCNZ has worked with national pest agencies to produce guidelines for machinery hygiene to prevent the spread of pests and weeds, which includes a hygiene logbook: