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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Southland swedes (use 'em!)

Council's monitoring processes questioned


Environment Southland's role in biosecurity and the effects of agrichemicals on soils and waterways has been questioned after the death of cattle grazing on HT swedes.

At yesterday's council meeting, Councillor Robert Guyton questioned the council's responsibilities in relation to the swede poisonings.

He was concerned about the potential for the herbicide-resistant swede to cross-pollinate with weed brassica and cause a major biosecurity issue.

Council chief executive Rob Phillips said Dairy NZ had taken the lead in the HT swede investigations, and he was in touch with them.

The council's biosecurity role was focused on pest management. If swedes continued to be an issue there was a process to go through to have them included in the pest management strategy, he said.

Guyton also questioned the use of the agrichemical Telar in Southland, and whether the council monitored its effects on groundwater and soils.

Phillips said water quality monitoring programmes were in place and the council sought advice from staff on potential issues.

"I'm pretty confident we've got good processes in place."

Councillor Nicol Horrell said he was concerned with where the discussion was going and said there was no risk from the chemical as far as he could see. It was definitely not a case of having bare paddocks with nothing able to grow in them, he said.

Guyton retorted that he was "blind" and suggested Cr Horrell try growing potatoes.

- The Southland Times


fredinthegrass said...

Things getting a tad 'testy' down your way, Rg.
Can you enlighten this 'aged' farmer as to HT swedes?

robertguyton said...

Testy indeed, fred.
"HT" - herbicide tolerant swedes (kale too, and turnips) 'engineered' to survive Telar, which remains toxic in the soil for at least a year. These swedes have killed hundreds of cows and sheep this season on Southland farms. The explanations vary and lead to 'no culpability', but that's not my concern. I'm worried that the herbicide-resistant brassicas will cross with the brassica weeds like wild turnip, and create a monster problem for farmers, provoking the development of new and more lethal herbicides in an effort to control and already problematic weed. As well, this Telat, or at least the active ingredient chlorsulfuron, is banned elsewhere and could be a threat to our health and that of the environment (freshwater fishes etc.). Our council is 'asleep at the wheel', in my view, on this issue, in fact some councillors, themselves farmers and users of ht swedes and Telar, seem blithely indifferent to the possible threat - "I see nutting'" as Horrell said in the report. Good grief! Wise council requires more than, I see nothing wrong, so there is nothing wrong> Our CEO claims this and that, but dodges the questions I asked altogether. Seems we've abdicated responsibility to industry and if they say, 'relax, nothing to see here', the council lies on the ground and presents its belly for scratching.
So, testy, yes :-)

darkhorse said...

ES does not monitor for agrichemicalls entering waterways at all - no measurement of pesticide residues antibiotics and anthelmentics all of which are ecotoxic and persistent

robertguyton said...

How, do you think, did agriculture manage to get dispensation from the rules around contamination of land, when they contaminate on a broad-scale and on land that produces food for humans??????

fredinthegrass said...

Thanks, Rg. Love my swedes mashed with cream, having been frosted in the field/garden, AND herbicide free.
Time to extend the vege garden and plant my own.

Don't say we agree on something again, Rg?

robertguyton said...

I'll not say it, Fred, for fear of breaking the spell.
Herbicides across the region's farms is stupidity, in my view but it pales into insignificance against the eco-crime of sediment loss. Losing our farms to the sea is unforgivable.

robertguyton said...

Oh and Fred, see if you can get hold of some Doons. They're the sweetest.

fredinthegrass said...

We grew Doon Major on the farm. The stock loved them, and so did we.
Oh. By the way - not a chemical in sight.

I have used Roundup in the past - gullible,eh!!
Now have seen through "The Monsanto Myth".

Genetic changes have been going on for millenniums in nature, Rg.
Mankind has sped the process up with unknown results due mainly to the artificial speed of the change.
I just can't trust a large corporate like Monsanto to
mange things properly - or at all really.

Philip Todd said...

Yep heard someone on the radio saying a big company would knowingly do anything that put the publics health at risk. ERRR Coca Cola, Rothmans and many many more happily peddle something they know is a risk to people. And something that can make a huge cow fall over and die must be risky to humans even the ones that aren't cows. DDT hasn't been used for years but still shows up in soil tests and can entre the food chain by way of milk.

robertguyton said...

New Zealnd farmers have taken the wrong path.
That path is rapidly leading to a situation that is seriously threatening our environment, the health of New Zealanders and the NZ economy.
There are better paths to take. Just last night, I began learning about "agroecology". Ideas like this contained within that particular branch of agriculture are where we should be looking. Genetic engineering and the various "icides" are not.

Graham Clarke said...

Any swedes even "the Doons" can give health problems if good animal husbandry is not observed (swede as a sole diet in cows is a poison), previous generations maintained transitioning the diet over 10 days and a third of diet in hay or straw,in addition swedes develop high toxicity later in the winter so more care is required changing diets, this is not always practiced now. There were 10s of thousands of cows wintered on HT that did not fall ill - Why Not?

And on broad scale contamination of land I agree we should be careful - some have not been in the past - but how do we reconcile widespread 1080 drops that kill many animals(some in the human food chain) , is absorbed by fish and appears to be connected to the illness of 2 women dusted by it on a west coast road?

robertguyton said...

Graham - yes, brassicas have to be managed well. The 'new way' that lead to the problems with the (serious) stock deaths and on-going illness in Southland is symptomatic of the increasingly disconnected management of crops and stock in the region. Faith in herbicides as the no.1 management tool for crops is a serious mistake, in my view. Research and development goes into their use and better, safer methods are starved of attention. The direction Southland farmers are taking is, in my opinion, wrong. They are being unwisely advised and they are unwise in following that advice. As to 1080, I am certainly not an advocate. Possum management through broad-scale poison drops is very risky. Risk taking involving chemicals onto and into the environment is not something I advocate.