This Gypsy Day, farmers are being urged to avoid moving the invasive pest weed velvetleaf along with their stock.
June 1 marks the first day of the new dairying season where thousands of sharemilkers load their cows into stock trucks or herd stock on roads and move equipment and families to new farms.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) cautions that the mass movement of stock and equipment could also move velvetleaf seed to other properties.
“Seeds from this invasive weed can be moved to new locations in cattle dung, in their hooves and on farm equipment,” Response Incident Controller David Yard says.
“There are some simple management measures farmers can employ now to reduce this risk, but the key is the ‘now’.”
Mr Yard says if cows have been grazing fodder beet crops where velvetleaf is present, it is important they are moved off those crops at least 24 hours before Gypsy Day.
“In fact, ideally we recommend that stock do not graze weed-infested areas within three days of their move. By keeping stock out of infested areas for those last three days, it will allow time for them to empty out before transfer."
“Farmers are also encouraged to stand stock off green feed before they are transported because that generates less effluent and reduces the risk of effluent ending up on roads and in waterways. Ensure stock have access to water and dry feed at this time.”
The Ministry also recommends stock movements are recorded for up to a week after they are moved out of velvetleaf infested grazing so that these areas can be monitored in future for any sign of velvetleaf growth.
“Farmers should advise stock truck operators that there could potentially be seed contamination present in stock truck effluent and this effluent must be disposed of in an approved effluent disposal site."
“It is also important that good machinery hygiene is practised anytime a machine is moved between infected properties. Remove all visible soil and plant matter that might spread velvetleaf, including equipment used to lift a fodder beet crop, transport an infested fodder beet crop or cultivate a new crop on previously infested paddocks.”