PGG Wrightson has admitted a biosecurity breech after carrying prohibited seed in an open bins on a truck through Canterbury’s cropping belt.
PGG Wrightson says it is disappointed in itself for making the mistakes that caused a roadside spill of seeds from an invasive weed.
The seed is from black grass or meadow fox tail, an invader of winter crops in Britain and Europe. It was found in a 16.3 tonne consignment of red fescue grass seed imported from Denmark and was being taken to a containment centre at Methven, Mid-Canterbury.
PGG Wrightson seeds manager John McKenzie said it appeared seed was sucked by air pressure from steel bins on a truck.
A manager had not followed Primary Industries Ministry instructions to enclose the bins.
“We’re disappointed in ourselves for this breakdown in procedures,” he said. . .
Croppping farmers are more than disappointed, they’re furious.
They’re describing this as like someone driving a herd of animals with foot and mouth disease down the road and letting some escape.
MPI response manager David Yard said the seeds were “fairly immature”. “There might be three or four germinate in the first year and one or two in the second year.”
He estimated 28 kilograms of red fescue had spilled during the trip. Included in that would have been about 2100 black grass seeds – enough to fill an eggcup. . .
Black grass is resistant to many herbicides and is difficult to control in several crops. It competes for nutrients, light, water and space, out-competing crops and reducing yields.
Yard said MPI would also be taking up the matter of the contaminated cargo with Danish authorities. The red fescue consignment had been rejected and would shortly be shipped back to Denmark. . .
Even if only a small amount of seed escaped it is beyond stupid to carry contaminated seed in open bins.
No matter how strong our biosecurity regulations are, they could be breached by stupidity.