Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed six new biosecurity and pest management projects that have received funding in the latest Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund round.
The six projects have been approved for total funding of just under $1.7 million and include a focus on vespula wasps and guava moths, giant buttercup weeds, and investigating the long term effects of herbicides used to control wilding conifers.
“Biosecurity is my number one priority and these projects will help us deal with these destructive pests,” says Mr Guy.
“Vespula wasps are estimated to cost the primary industries around $130m per year. This $459,000 project will investigate the use of two parasitic flies as a biological control, including testing their safety and seeking approval for release.
“The giant buttercup project will develop tools and plans for farmers to use in tackling this toxic weed, building on the work of a current SFF project which ends soon.
“Another project will investigate the long-term effects of herbicides used to control wilding conifers, including their impact on vegetation succession and soil and water quality.”
Mr Guy made the announcement while visiting the farm of Richard and Dianne Kidd near Helensville today, the 2016 Supreme winners of the inaugural Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
About the projects:
• This project will continue to investigate possible biological control agents for vespula wasps, a serious invasive pest present through New Zealand. These wasps are estimated to cost the primary industries in the region of $130m per annum.
• This work will build on a recently completed Sustainable Farming Fund project, which identified two parasitic flies as potential enemies for the wasps. As these flies are not currently in NZ, this project will import the flies, test their safety, and seek approval for release through the Environmental Protection Agency.
• The three year project will receive $459,000 of MPI funding and will begin in July 2017. The previous project received $433,000.
Giant buttercup weed
• Giant buttercup is an inedible and toxic weed which is estimated to cost the dairy industry around $156 million annually.
• This project will develop knowledge and tools to enable dairy farmers to design and implement long-term, cost-effective management programmes. It will determine optimum control methods through on farm trials and develop a giant buttercup management decision support system. This system will include a tool for farmers to measure the cover of the weed in a dairy pasture and a model for determining if the proposed method of control is cost-effective.
• The project will receive $327,000 of MPI funding. It builds on a current SFF project, due to end in June 2017, which received $396,000.
Herbicides used to control wilding conifers
• This project will investigate the long-term effects of herbicides used to control wilding conifers, including their impact on vegetation succession and soil and water quality. Best practice procedures will be shared through the NZ Wilding Conifer Management Group and associated practitioner networks to enable improved decision-making and outcomes for herbicide control of wilding conifers.
• The three year project will receive $232,000 of MPI funding and will begin in July 2017. Under the Sustainable Farming Fund, $691,000 has previously been invested in projects relating to wilding conifers. This project will complement the National Wilding Conifer Management Strategy and the recently MBIE funded ‘Winning with Wildings’ programme.
Biosecurity – the farm border
• This project will provide a Farm Biosecurity plan with modules that can be adapted to suit individual farms. Funding is $90,600 for the Seed and Grain Readiness and Response Group.
Biocontrol to tackle horehound
• The unpalatable shrub horehound is becoming a serious weed, especially in dryland lucerne pastures. Chemical control is not economic as the problem worsens following treatment. The chemicals also kill the lucerne, leaving erosion-prone bare soil, and their prolonged residual effect is advantageous to horehound since it is the first plant to come back.
• Using the successful horehound biocontrol programme developed in Australia in the 1990s, we will explore the feasibility of horehound biocontrol in New Zealand. Funding of $285,450 for the Horehound Biocontrol Group.
• Guava moth seriously affects feijoa and macadamia production and can impact backyard citrus, stonefruit and pipfruit. This funding of $289,615 will help the New Zealand Feijoa Association develop grower-based practices to manage populations in commercial orchards and private gardens.