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6 May 2002
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will use a fixed wing plane and a
helicopter for future aerial sprays in the fight against the painted apple moth
in west Auckland.
Painted apple moth programme co-ordinator Don Hammond says a small,
specialist plane will be used which should be able to complete the targeted zone
in considerably less time it takes a helicopter on its own.
"This will be good news for residents," he says, "most people
want it over and done with in the shortest possible time."
The Civil Aviation Authority has approved the combined operation and MAF says
it will have a suitable aircraft ready to join the helicopter for the sixth
aerial spray scheduled for Tuesday 21 May - weather permitting.
The plane would fly at the same height as the helicopter and the same wind
restrictions to limit spray drift - no flying over 12 kph - would apply.
Mr Hammond says there's two reasons for the change in approach.
"Over the past few months we've expanded the targeted aerial zone. The
original 300 hectare area was fine for a helicopter but we are now tackling an
area of 600 hectares. A small plane for the large residential blocks and a
helicopter for the tricky parts will be more efficient."
"A helicopter was, and still is, the right choice for targeted areas
with difficult terrain like deep gullies, seaward margins and around powerlines.
We'll still use it in those areas.
"Auckland's changeable weather is the second problem. It's proved to be
more difficult than we thought to get several successive rain-free, windless
days. Some of our earlier operations were delayed over a week.
"The weather won't change but if we can complete the operation in fewer
hours it gives us more flexibility. There's a good chance we'll complete the
whole zone in one day - even one morning if the weather is kind."
MAF's programme against the painted apple moth is having an impact. Over the
last three months, totals from the male moth trap catches have shown a
significant and constant drop in the male moth count - down from a peak of
almost 900 moths before aerial spraying to less than 200 in recent weeks. Last
week's catch was just 73 moths.
For more information please contact:
Don Hammond Mary-Ann Crawford Painted
apple moth aerial spraying Painted apple month project programme co-ordinator
communications Mob: 025 885 940 Mob: 021 648 117