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

For the second year running, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan, today reminded all owners and occupiers of land of their responsibility, under the Noxious Weeds Act, to control the spread of noxious weeds. The principal weeds that must be controlled under the Act are ragwort, thistle, dock and wild oat.

She also brought to the attention of 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, which makes it an animal health issue. Other noxious weeds, such as thistle and dock in grassland and wild oat in cereals, adversely affect crop growth and consequently yield. Furthermore, she said that where noxious weeds are not controlled, their seeds spread to adjoining lands, thereby causing further infestation, to the annoyance of neighbours.

Minister Coughlan continued by saying: "This is the second consecutive year of an awareness campaign run by my Department to control noxious weeds, which clearly demonstrates my determination to bring to the notice of owners and occupiers of land their responsibility under the act. There has been a noticeable response to the 2006 campaign, for which all concerned are to be complimented".

She continued by urging all local authorities, farmers and land developers etc. to continue with the good work of preventing the growth and spread of noxious weeds in the environment.

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

The Minister concluded by saying that Teagasc has an advisory leaflet on methods for the control of noxious weeds and she urged farmers and landowners whose lands contain such weeds to seek professional advice from their local Teagasc advisor.

4 May, 2007

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 had 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 growth and 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 the Single Farm Payment.

Where herbicides are used, up to mid-March is the most appropriate period of year for controlling ragwort in 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 first noxious weeds control campaign in February. This May campaign is directed at Local Authorities, developers and farmers whose lands are contaminated with noxious weeds.

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: 04 May 2007