Invasive buttercup scourge for farmer

21:04, Jul 23 2013
COSTLY INTRUDER: The giant buttercup competes with grasses and clover.

A Southland dairy farmer whose farm has been hit by a poisonous and invasive pasture weed, giant buttercup, says it is costing him "big time".

The pasture weed is highly invasive, unpalatable to cattle and poisonous in large quantities, and competes with grasses and clover in the pasture.

At Pourakino Valley, near Riverton, dairy farmer Rene Erkes said an Environment Southland survey earlier this year showed every paddock on his 225-hectare farm had giant buttercup.

The survey showed up to 20 per cent of the pasture was made up of the weed, he said.

Mr Erkes said he moved from giant buttercup hot spot, Taranaki, 18 years ago where the pasture weed was rampant on nearby farms and costing farmers.

"It was quite bad.


"A lot of those farms, they still haven't got on top of it. They can maintain it but they can't get rid of it," he said after visiting Taranaki last week.

Moving to Southland, Mr Erkes said he did not think he would be facing the same problem. "I was shocked to find it. It's definitely costing in terms of production . . . it's costing us big time," he said.

It cost to spray the weed and it also competed with pasture, lowering production.

Mr Erkes said he would target the plant, plough, spray and put in winter crops to contain it and stop it from spreading.

Earlier this month, Environment Southland held a meeting with industry representatives and farmers to discuss the threat of giant buttercup after a survey of rural roadsides in February showed the threat to dairy pastures and profitability was larger than expected.

Environment Southland biosecurity manager Richard Bowman said the survey showed the weed was present on 90 kilometres of 900 kilometres of surveyed Southland roadsides.

The weed was found in the Pourakino Valley, Kennington, Mandeville and Lumsden.

A steering group would be formed to help address the issue but Environment Southland was not prepared to take the lead, he said.

"It is a dairy industry issue and they need to take the lead on it."

The Southland Times