Gypsy Day planning

by Ann van Engelen

Farmers across the country are urged to do their bit to protect farms from damaging pest plants by ensuring machinery, vehicles and equipment have been cleaned ahead of Gypsy Day.

Gypsy Day occurs in the week leading up to and immediately following June 1 each year. It involves the mass transporting of cows and machinery around the country’s roads as farm contractors relocate themselves and their stock in time for the new season.

“Farmers and contractors have an important role to play in preventing the spread of pest plants and weeds through good on-farm biosecurity practices,” said biosecurity pest plants leader, Darion Embling.

Unclean machinery is a confirmed pathway for the spread of infestations, such as velvetleaf and alligator weed. That makes machinery hygiene especially important with the mass movement of stock, machines and vehicles between farms.

“Any form of plant or soil contamination has a real potential of harbouring pests or weeds. Machinery should be cleaned so no visible soil or plant matter remains, which might spread pests or weeds.

“Ideally, machinery wash-down should occur on the property prior to movement, containing any problems at the source. Alternatively, machinery may be cleaned in a built-for-purpose wash-down facility, but care should be taken to ensure there is not a risk of pest spread during transport to that facility.

“Pest plants can have a massive impact on the productivity and profitability of farm businesses, so farmers and contractors need to be extra vigilant when moving between properties.”

Also, stand stock off green feed before they are transported to help keep the region’s roads clear of effluent and safe for users.

“A cow’s daily combined effluent is approximately 52 litres, and a truck effluent tank’s capacity is just 200 litres. It means the spillage of effluent onto roads is a real risk unless farmers, in particular, take some simple steps ahead of time.”

It is recommended that farmers confirm stock pick-up times in advance to eliminate confusion, move stock close to the loading ramp the day before, when possible, stand stock off green feed for a minimum of four hours with water and use dry feed before transport because it results in less effluent.