New website launched to help farmers manage pests and weeds
Weeds and insect pests
severely limit pasture
and livestock production
on New Zealand farms
and information on
their control is often
fragmented and difficult
A team of scientists and farm consultants, led by AgResearch’s Dr Katherine Tozer, has developed ‘PestWebNZ’, which she says is “a website to allow farmers and people in the pastoral agricultural sector to find information on the identification and management of insect pests and weeds.”
The website currently covers over 20 key New Zealand pasture weeds and pests,
such as clover root weevil, Argentine stem weevil, giant buttercup, yellow bristle
grass and nodding thistle. These species have been chosen in consultation with key farming, industry and research personnel, and the website will continue to be
expanded with other important species.
Dr Tozer says that PestWebNZ provides an independent source of information
to assist both farmers and consultants in decision-making regarding pest
management, leading to better control and reduction in productivity losses. It increases dissemination of existing knowledge and makes solutions more readily available to industry.
The website is intended to be a supplementary, easily accessible source of
information for farmers to use alongside other existing sources. It provides
information on identification, control, biology and impact of key pasture weeds
An alert function, available by free subscription, sends emails about outbreaks or potential outbreaks of insect pests, along with suggestions for their management.
The site can be searched by weed or pest name or by what the species looks like. Using a short series of links, the site will then give information on the biology of the pest or weed, an impact assessment and options for management and control.
The site does not use commercial brand names, but instead gives users the
chemical names that they can then take to a retailer who can suggest an
Dr Tozer says, “It has been an enjoyable experience to collaborate with the many
people involved, including experienced entomologists such as Colin Ferguson who have prepared all the pest information and are drivers behind the alert function.
The enthusiasm and input of Simon Glennie, a consultant from AbacusBio, has helped to ensure that the website is meeting farmers’ expectations.
The project has also utilised the computer programming expertise of AgResearch
staff and Otago Polytechnic students such as Glenn Tocher. There has been strong industry and local council support, which is essential for the success of PestWebNZ.”
The website will be launched in June 2011 at the National Agricultural Field Days at Mystery Creek.