Stopping weeds at the farm gate

As sharemilkers around the country are gearing up to move stock on June 1, the main focus this year is on taking care not to spread Covid-19.

At the same time, it's important to remember that stock can spread other nasties such as Mycoplasma bovis and weeds such as velvetleaf.

The mantra that prevention is better than cure applies in both cases.

It is important to take care not to move weeds around when stock, equipment and people are on the move.

Weeds such as Chilean needle grass and nassella tussock can decrease productivity and impact negatively on farming practices.

These weeds have already established in other areas of New Zealand but we can still keep them out of Southland.

It is your responsibility, and that of every person visiting or working on your property, to take precautions to prevent weeds from entering or leaving your farm and spreading.

Weeds can spread by natural means, or through the movements of people, animals, crops, vehicles, machinery and equipment as well as via soil and contaminated seed and feed.

You can minimise the risk of spreading weeds by applying some simple hygiene and on-farm biosecurity practices.

Firstly, staff can only help if they know what to be aware of, so take the time to educate everybody on your farm about key weed threats such as velvetleaf.

Restricting the number of entry and exit points to your property will also limit the potential places weeds can get in, and allow you to monitor these areas closely.

Display biosecurity signs with clear instructions and contact details at all vehicle access points to inform visitors what you require from them.

Ensure that all staff, contractors and visitors check that their vehicles, machinery, equipment and boots and clothing are clean and free from soil and seed before entering the property.

If necessary, use high pressure water to wash down dirty vehicles, machinery and equipment and provide brushes to sweep out vehicle interiors.

Before buying your own stock or grazing someone else's, ask questions about where the animals have come from and whether they could be carrying any weed seeds.

Also ensure that any hay or baleage leaving your farm is free of already established weeds like ragwort and nodding thistle.

Dealing with weeds can be costly and time-consuming, so it is in your best interest to do everything you can to prevent them establishing and spreading on your property.

- RANDALL MILNE Environment Southland Biosecurity Team Leader, Plants

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