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One stop info hub for field horsetail now available

One stop info hub for field horsetail now available

Field horsetail is fast becoming a prolific weed in some areas of the Horizons Region and a new one stop information hub is now available on Horizons’ website for concerned farmers and landowners.

Field horsetail has become a significant issue in Manawatu and Rangitikei in particular, as it is a very difficult to control perennial weed which has an extensive root system and can quickly dominate surrounding pasture. It is commonly spread by rhizome and root fragments in gravel, sand and soil movements for road construction as well as by spore dispersal, potentially over great distances. Recently the weed has spread to other areas of the region with large infestations already occurring on the Whanganui River system.

Field horsetail has become such a concern that in 2012 the Rangitikei Field Horsetail group was formed, with support from Landcare Trust and Horizons Regional Council. A meeting earlier this year, hosted by the group attracted over 80 people, highlighting the increasing numbers of farmers and landowners who are worried about its spread.

Now the Horizons website has been updated to include extensive information on field horsetail, details on the Rangitikei Field Horsetail Group and methods to contain the spread and manage the weed. Informative video clips and photos of the weed can also be found along with links to promotional material such as a recent Rural Delivery episode discussing the serious concern field horsetail is posing. The field horsetail growing season is in August/September so reading up on the information now will provide landowners plenty of time to identify the weed before it takes hold of their properties.

Horizons environmental coordinator Craig Davey explains that there is no simple fix to manage field horsetail and instead a number of actions need to be taken.

“Field horsetail is difficult to manage and is best contained by using a combination of chemical, pathway and biological interventions,”

“Landowners need to be determined and persistent, spraying the weed 3-4 times per year if sites are small and the root system isn’t too deep.”

“Roadside to paddock spread is very common and landowners are encouraged to assess their road frontage in order to keep field horsetail at bay. Gravel extraction companies have also been made aware of the problem and are being encouraged to use best practice methods.”

“In the long term biological control is likely to be the only cost effective and sustainable option for field horsetail and this is the approach that Horizons is encouraging.”

Horizons, in conjunction with the Rangitikei Field Horsetail Group and the Landcare Trust manage a Sustainable Farming Fund project to import insects and diseases to New Zealand to be released against field horsetail. The group hopes to gain approval to release at least one biocontrol agent and be ready to begin mass rearing and distribution of this agent. It is likely to take up to five years for a biocontrol agent’s population to build to a level where impact assessment is appropriate.

In the mean time Horizons Regional Council will be reviewing and developing their Regional Pest Management Strategy in the early part of next year. The new strategy will need to align with new legislation under the Biosecurity Law Reform Act 2012 and will cover pest plants such as field horsetail which have come into prominence over recent times.

Information on field horsetail can be found on www.horizons.govt.nz, or Horizons staff can be contacted directly on 0508 800 800.

Ends

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