Rural contactors around most of the country are being offered a free visit and workshop to alert them to biosecurity risks.

A key focus is on velvetleaf, an invasive weed with incursions in nearly every region of New Zealand. A member of the mallow family, velvetleaf is notoriously hard to control; each plant can produce over 30,000 seeds which survive for a long time. If not controlled it could mean 70% reductions in crops.

Sally Linton runs the Velvetleaf Community Outreach programme in the North Island for MPI. She met many rural contractors at the June conference in Rotorua where her stand, run in conjunction with regional councils, included a live velvetleaf plant.


“Before things get really busy is a good time to have a biosecurity workshop for your staff. This gives a good understanding of biosecurity risks which should be a part of every staff induction with regular refreshers to protect your business and the rural sector from the unwanted disruptions a biosecurity incursion can cause,” says Sally.

Rural Contractors NZ president Helen Slattery represents RCNZ members on MPI’s Velvetleaf Steering Group. She says learning about this and other biosecurity risks are the first steps in controlling any spread.

“It’s great that we’ve got this offer to visit us because as rural contractors we present higher risks of spreading noxious weeds given we visit a variety of farms,” says Helen. “Having the workshop increased our staff’s awareness of what to look for in the paddock and made them even more aware of how pest plants can be spread.”

The workshop only takes a couple of hours and include a tour of your yard to identify biosecurity risks, how contractors can minimise risks and constructing a draft biosecurity plan specific to your business.

For more information and to book your workshop contact:

North Island – Sally Linton 027 278 1620 [email protected]

South Otago/Southland – Rebecca Robertson 027 424 6129  [email protected] or Sonya Nicol  [email protected]

Canterbury/North Otago – currently vacant Contact Katie Edmonds 027 263 9873 [email protected],nz