8 April 2016
Velvetleaf search ramps up
Gore District Council staff have joined the growing contingent out walking in fodder beet crops around Southland this week in the search for the pest plant velvetleaf.
The Council’s parks and reserves department has provided three four-man teams, who are rostered for four day stints. The response to the velvetleaf outbreak has been a combined one from Southland’s local authorities, led by Environment Southland.
This week there has been between 75 and 80 people on the ground, and up to 15 people working in the operations centre on logistics, data input, and mapping.
Gore District Council Chief Executive Stephen Parry said the council was more than happy to provide staff to assist with the search.
"This pest has the potential to have a major impact on our farmers, and as every Southlander knows what happens on the farm has a ripple effect to all corners of our community."
To date about 1123 hectares have been searched and 86 plants found. Environment Southland had an original target of 1400 hectares, however,this has been significantly increased with another 120 properties added to the search list.
As teams make their way through the inspection list, farmers are being urged to do their bit by checking their own crops regularly and reporting any signs of velvetleaf to the Ministry for Primary Industries on 0800 80 99 66.
Anybody who finds a suspected velvetleaf plant should leave it where it is, mark its location, photograph it and contact MPI.
It is important people do not pull the plants out and move them, as this could cause seeds to drop and the plants to spread.