Southland farmers are being urged to be proactive in the fight against the pest weed velvetleaf.
There are plans to inspect the fodder beet crops of all properties planted with the known contaminated seed, however the short timeframe before this invasive weed drops its seeds and spreads, means farmers need to check their crops now and not wait for biosecurity inspection teams.
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.
Environment Southland biosecurity manager Richard Bowman says seven velvetleaf plants have been discovered on Southland properties and, with approximately 1400 hectares of crops needing to be inspected, it is a mammoth undertaking.
In contrast to other areas of the country, the velvetleaf plants found in Southland have been smaller and more difficult to see in the crops, with many only the same height or smaller than the fodder beet.
An additional 27 staff from outside Southland have joined Environment Southland staff from today to carry out inspections.
Staff have been brought in by Asure Quality, who are managing the national response on behalf of the Ministry for Primary Industries, with Environment Southland leading the local response, with Emergency Management Southland providing support.
“There is a definite sense of urgency about finding these plants, we have only a small window of opportunity before they seed and it is something we need to prevent establishing in Southland,” Mr Bowman said.
Farmers who find any suspected velvetleaf plants should leave them in the ground, photograph and mark their location before immediately contacting MPI on 0800 80 99 66.