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Published: 2008-03-07 00:00:00

Drought-affected Waikato farmers are being warned to be careful not to import silage contaminated with toxic alligator weed from Northland.

Environment Waikato is investigating two reports that Northland silage – described as having alligator weed in it – has been offered for sale on Trade Me.

Checks by the regional council indicate the ads are no longer online but it wants to contact the advertisers to ensure they do not offer alligator weed-infected silage to Waikato farmers so that the weed is not spread further into the region.

“We have asked, under the Biosecurity Act, for Trade Me to provide us with information that will allow us to contact the advertisers, and it is cooperating with our request,” said biosecurity officer Wendy Mead.

“Currently alligator weed – which is toxic to stock – is widespread in Northland, but relatively rare in the Waikato. We don’t want it getting a deeper grip here through infected Northland silage brought in to help beat the drought. The weed is very easily spread if clippings are present in any silage or other material.

“We ask silage sellers to not offer infected product in the Waikato, and ask local farmers to be very careful about what they’re importing.”

Waikato Federated Farmers president Stew Wadey echoed Environment Waikato’s concerns.

“Farmers need to be very careful about what is in any silage brought into the region. We don’t want temporary farm management measures taken to deal with the drought to introduce longer-term problems for the region. Alligator weed could be a real threat to farming if it gets further established.”

The latest alert over alligator weed follows a similar warning about kikuyu weed in Northland silage.

“We understand entirely the desperate straits Waikato farmers are in at present but we do need people to be careful. I’m very happy to help with advice to farmers over how to manage these weed issues,” said Ms Mead.

Wendy Mead can be contacted on 0800 800 401.