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Published: 2013-07-22 00:00:00

Keeping rural machinery and equipment clean is a key way of preventing the spread of dangerous pest plants, says Waikato Regional Council.

Broom corn millet and Horse tail
Photos by Trevor James: Waikato Regional Council is particularly keen for the region to
remain free of the invasive weeds broom corn millet (left) and horse tail (right).

In a statement to mark Biosecurity Month, the council said the role of contaminated machinery and equipment in spreading weeds was not well understood. 

New Keep it Clean - Machinery Hygiene Guidelines have been developed by National Pest Control Agencies, in partnership with Federated Farmers, Rural Contractors New Zealand, the Ministry of Primary Industries, and local government, including Waikato Regional Council. 

“Machinery and vehicle movements are not the only culprit responsible for much of the ongoing spread of plant pests in New Zealand’s productive and environmental landscapes,” said biosecurity officer Darion Embling. 

“But machinery and equipment movements pose a persistent high risk with at least 80 pest species known to be typically moved by machinery. 

“Other significant pathways – such as movements of stock, stock feed, and rock aggregates – are also important.” 

Mr Embling called for more vigilance by all machinery operators and people who move animal feed material from property-to-property. 

“Most people in the rural sector have a strong sense of wanting to look after the environment. But there is room for improvement when it comes to taking responsibility for potential weed spread.” 

He said the council is particularly keen for the region to remain free of two very invasive weeds – broom corn millet (Panicum miliaceum) and horse tail (Equisetum arvense) – which can cause significant economic and environmental damage. 

“The most likely way they will arrive is through contaminated machinery,” said Mr Embling. 

Anyone wanting advice on moving machinery and equipment, or on dealing with suspect weeds, can call 0800 BIOSECURITY (0800 246 732).