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Minister Browne reminds occupiers and owners of land of their obligation to control noxious weeds

Mr John Browne TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food, today reminded all landowners and occupiers of land of their responsibility, under the Noxious Weeds Act, to control the spread of noxious weeds. The principal weeds which must be controlled under the Act are ragwort, thistle, dock and wild oat.

He also reminded landowners and occupiers of land that the reason for designating ragwort a noxious weed is that it is poisonous to animals when grazed or consumed in hay or silage. Other noxious weeds, such as thistle and dock in grassland and wild oat in cereals adversely affect crop yields. Furthermore, he said that where noxious weeds are not controlled, their seeds spread to adjoining lands, thereby causing further infestation, to the annoyance of neighbours.

Minister Browne continued: "There has been a noticeable increase in the prevalence of noxious weeds in the past two years, which has attracted adverse publicity in the news media and resulted in an increased level of complaints to the Department from members of the public. For this reason I am appealing to offenders such as local authorities, farmers and land developers etc. to face up to their responsibilities by ensuring that they control weeds designated as noxious."

He noted that the Act provides for penalties for convicted offenders and said the control of noxious weeds is now a cross-compliance requirement for Single Farm Payment under Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition. Failure to comply with this condition may result in a reduction in the Single Farm Payment.

Minister Browne went on to say that Teagasc has updated its advisory leaflet on methods for the control of noxious weeds and he urged farmers and landowners whose lands contain such weeds to seek professional advice from their local Teagasc advisor.

In conclusion, Minister Browne said he understands that up to mid-March is the most appropriate period of the year for controlling ragwort with herbicides on pasture, silage and hay land, which is the reason for issuing advice at such an early period of the year.

23 January, 2006

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Powers for the control of noxious weeds are vested in the Minister for Agriculture and Food under the Noxious Weeds Act, 1936.

Ministerial Orders designating certain weeds noxious have been made from time to time, as the need arose.

List of weeds designated noxious is as follows:

  • Thistle, Ragwort and Dock - 1937 Order
  • Common Barbery - 1958 Order
  • Male Wild Hop Plant - 1965 Order
  • Wild Oat - 1973 Order

The reasons for designating them noxious are varied. Ragwort is poisonous to herbivores when grazed or consumed in hay or silage. Thistle and dock in grassland and wild oat in cereal crops reduce yields appreciably. Also, their seeds are spread widely, resulting in clean lands becoming contaminated. Male wild hop plant cross-pollinates with cultivated varieties, thereby reducing the quality of the latter. Common barberry harbours black stem rust, which is a disease that attacks cultivated cereal crops.

Under the Act, it is an offence not to prevent the spread of noxious weeds. The owner, occupier, user or manager of lands on which these weeds are growing is liable, upon conviction, to a fine. In the case of fences and margins of public roads, the local authority charged with the maintenance of such roads is responsible under the Act.

Under the Single Payment Scheme, farmers are required to maintain land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition as part of Cross-Compliance. One of the conditions laid down is that appropriate measures must be adopted to minimise the spread of noxious weeds. Failure to comply with this condition may result in a reduction in Single Farm Payment.

Where herbicides are used, up to mid-March is the most appropriate period of year for controlling ragwort on pasture, silage and hay land, so as to ensure weeds are eliminated before grazing or cutting for hay or silage commences. Hence the reason for the noxious weeds control campaign being launched at this early period of year.

The Teagasc advisory leaflet on the control of noxious weeds has been up-dated and placed on their web address at www.teagasc.ie.

Local Authorities, farmers, land developers etc whose lands contain noxious weeds should obtain professional advice on control methods from their local Teagasc advisor.

Date Released: 23 January 2006