Rural groups are banding together to support farmers dealing with challenging weather conditions in Otago and Southland.
Tuesday, 10 January 2017 10:34
Joint effort needed to manage velvetleafWritten by Sudesh Kissun
Southland landowners are being urged to continue to be proactive in the fight against the pest weed velvetleaf, as the next phase of the response gets underway.
Velvetleaf is an aggressive weed, which damages crops by competing with them for nutrients and water. It has the potential to devastate future crops if it gets established. Last year, nearly 200 velvetleaf plants were located in fodder beet crops around the region during a massive search and destroy operation covering 4,443 hectares. As a follow-up to this, Environment Southland and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) are working together to ensure properties where potentially contaminated fodder beet seed was planted have farm management plans prepared. Environment Southland director of operations Jonathan Streat says 32 farms identified as high priority are the initial focus of a contractor employed by Environment Southland. The contractor has met with landowners to develop weed management plans tailored to their individual properties. The plans cover crop choice, machinery use, stock movements and provide information for the landowners on the risks of velvetleaf spreading both on and off-farm. “The top priority is the properties where mature velvetleaf plants were found last season, as these may have seeded and therefore present the highest risk. We are working with these landowners and ask them to remain vigilant in looking for this weed, as well as taking every precaution to prevent it being spread. It is in our own best interests to work together to stop this weed getting a foothold in Southland.” Additional contractors will soon contact landowners of around 400 further properties known to have planted the potentially contaminated fodder beet seed last season. We will also work with these land owners to develop farm management plans and to ensure both owners and farm workers are aware of velvetleaf, its character and appearance and how to manage it. This recent incursion has been linked to contaminated fodder beet seed from a number of seed lines. The following fodder beet lines have tested positive for velvetleaf contamination: Kyros DNK -16UB128, Bangor DNK-15UB079, Bangor DNK- 16UB126, Bangor DNK- 16UB114, Feldherr DNK-16UB131, Troya DNK-16UB112. However, all farmers who have planted fodder beet seed, regardless of the seed line, should check their crops carefully for velvetleaf. “We all have a role to play in preventing this weed becoming established in Southland. The consequences of it establishing could be very significant for our region’s agricultural productivity and we can’t afford to let that happen. Checking crops regularly, reporting any signs of velvetleaf to MPI, working with Environment Southland staff and contractors and implementing good on-farm biosecurity measures are things we all need to be doing." Farmers who find any suspected velvetleaf plants should contact MPI on 0800 80 99 66. If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact Environment Southland on 0800 76 88 45.