Farm Management

Research provides new guidance for West Coast farmers on pests

AgResearch scientists are set to present new guidance to West Coast farmers on dealing with some of the region’s worst pests after years of in-depth research alongside locals.

Since 2014 farmers in the West Coast Pest Management Group have taken part in a project funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund to improve the understanding of pests that threaten pastures.

“This research is about providing farmers on the South Island’s West Coast with the tools to tackle these pests, before the long-term damage is done to their pastures and bottom lines,” says AgResearch Senior Scientist Sarah Mansfield.

“The research has focused particularly on the porina caterpillar, which if unchecked has the potential to seriously reduce the quality and production of pasture. The farmers monitored the timing of the porina moth flights on their properties to determine the most effective time to apply measures to control the pest and prevent damage.

“With the data collected by farmers, combined with sampling of the caterpillar populations by AgResearch scientists, we can now make recommendations for managing porina on the West Coast.

“We will be preparing a regional pest management guide based on the outcomes of this research, and from an earlier Sustainable Farming Fund project focused on another pasture pest, the Manuka beetle. There will also be the opportunity for people to hear first-hand about the findings to date at upcoming public meetings.”

In addition to the funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund, the work on porina has also been supported by DairyNZ, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Westland Milk Products, and Landcorp.

“It’s been a great example of famers working alongside scientists, government and industry to support the rural sector in this region,” Dr Mansfield says.

The public meetings are as follows:

  • 10 April 2017 – from 7pm at Whataroa Community Hall, 57 Main Rd, Whataroa
  • 11 April 2017 – from 7pm at Kokatahi Hall, Upper Kokatahi Rd, Kokatahi.
  • At Landcorp, Cape Foulwind (time and date TBA).

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