DAERA urges farmers and landowners to destroy noxious weeds

Date published: 16 May 2018

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today reminded farmers and landowners of the need to destroy noxious weeds.

Common ragwort

Under the Noxious Weeds (Northern Ireland) Order 1977, ragwort, creeping thistle, spear thistle, broad leafed docks, curled leafed docks and wild oats are defined as noxious weeds. DAERA has powers under the Order to insist that these weeds are destroyed under notice and failure to comply with such a requirement could result in prosecution and/or Basic Payment penalty.  Owners and occupiers of land are also reminded that ragwort (also called ragweed or benweed) is poisonous and may cause illness and even death to livestock.

Noxious weeds should be destroyed before they have had time to flower, seed and spread. 

Care should be taken when filling and applying herbicides to ensure no chemicals enter any drain or waterway as grassland herbicides are the most commonly detected pesticides in local drinking water catchments, MCPA being of particular concern. When spraying, observe buffer zones and where possible use low drift nozzles. After spraying ensure sprayers are cleaned and stored under cover to prevent rain washing any contamination from the sprayer into drains. As the Sustainable Use Directive is now in full effect, everyone applying professional herbicide products requires an approved certificate of competence and all tractor mounted application equipment must have a National Sprayer Testing Scheme test certificate if it is more than five years old.

A Water Catchment Partnership has been formed to highlight the issue of pesticides in local water catchments and is seeking to raise awareness of the issue with local users. The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) will be supporting this initiative with localised delivery of Rush and Grassland Weed Control Workshops.

For details contact Graeme Campbell by email at: graeme.campbell@daera-ni.gov.uk.

Northern Ireland Water have launched a free weed wiping programme for farmers in the Glenhordial reservoir catchment as part of the Water Catchment Partnership initiative to reduce the use of MCPA. Any farmers within this catchment area can contact Dominic McCann, NI Water on 07803 799 217 for further details.

Further advice on weed control can be obtained from a BASIS qualified agronomist or your CAFRE Crops Development Adviser. Noxious weeds complaints and complaints involving invasive alien plant species growing on agricultural land may be reported to DAERA on our helpline number 0300 200 7843.

Notes to editors: 

  1. A fact sheet giving information on the control of these weeds in grassland can be obtained from DAERA, Plant Health Inspection  Branch, Room 1022, Dundonald House, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, BT4 3SB (Tel: 028 9052 4691) or from the DAERA website.
  2. Under the Noxious Weeds (Northern Ireland) Order 1977 the Department is empowered to serve upon the owner of land or the occupier of land a notice requiring, within a specified time, noxious weeds to be cut down or destroyed. Failure to comply with such a notice could lead to the instigation of legal proceedings or a penalty on Basic Payment.
  3. The department may take photographs and videos at announcements and events to publicise its work. Photographs, interviews, videos or other recordings may be issued to media organisations for publicity purposes or used in promotional material, including in publications, newspapers, magazines, other print media, on television, radio and electronic media (including social media and the internet). Photographs and videos will also be stored on the department’s internal records management system. The department will keep the photographs and recordings for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which they have been obtained. The department’s Privacy Policy is available on our website.
  4. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  5. All media enquiries to DAERA Press Office or tel: 028 9052 4619.

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