SFF Project Summary

Latest update

Project Title: Minimising the environmental impact of forest weed management in New Zealand
Grant No.: 12/038
   

Contact Details

Name of Applicant Group: Future Forests Research
Contact Person: Kit Richards
Address: FFR
PO Box 1127
Rotorua 3040
Telephone 1: 07 9217206
Telephone 2:
Facsimile:
Email: kit.richards@ffr.co.nz

Project Details

Status: In progress
SFF Funding: 392,000
Total Project Funding: 800,500
Proposed Start Date: Sep-12
Proposed Finish Date: Sep-15
Region: National
Sector: Forestry
Sub-sector:
Topic: Integrated pest management
Pest & disease
Weeds


Project description

International market pressures (through Environmental Certification) and lowered certainty over the long term safety of 2 herbicides critical to economically viable plantation establishment has led to the sector seeking to investigate more environmentally benign but cost effective alternatives. This project, aims to establish successful new operational prescriptions for forest establishment.

The issue/opportunity

Environmental certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) requires a reduction in chemical use within plantation forests. Two critical herbicides hexazinone and terbuthylazine have been designated as “highly hazardous” by FSC, a factor which could heavily impact the forest industry’s current dependence on chemicals for cost-effective weed control.

The short-term benefits of weed control include increased early survival and growth, the long-term benefits are an overall gain in volume (m3 ha-1) and shortened rotation of 1–4 years on many sites in New Zealand.

Weed control is a critical forest management practice. Finding more environmentally friendly alternatives and optimum dosages of new chemicals is the key pathway to decrease forestry’s pesticide footprint and ensure that plantation forestry continues to be economically, environmentally and socially sustainable in it’s role as a major contributor to the Nations’ GDP and exports.

The context/background

By underpinning the current “licence to operate” during plantation establishment, this project supports one of the most critical components of the whole forest products lifecycle, namely the economic and environmentally sustainable establishment or re-establishment of commercial forest plantations. Forestry is of critical importance to New Zealand’s current and future economic wellbeing, contributing more to GDP than pastoral agriculture on an area basis (1.47%GDP per million ha). It is currently the 3rd largest export earner, a direct employer of 17,000 people and earns 10.3% ($3.9 billion) of total export revenue.

This project will play an important role in economically meeting sustainability objectives by:

Methods

The proposed work expands and enhances an existing industry funded research programme by implementing multi-year field trials that provide a robust evaluation of newly identified, more environmentally benign herbicides, together with non-chemical control, in forest management systems.

The proposal focuses on two approaches, the specific objective of which will be to optimise the rate and timing of the application of chemicals or non-chemical treatments to determine which provide the best protection against major forest weeds:

  1. Conducting controlled and field dose response and timing trials, to evaluate FSC compliant herbicides that will be most effective in controlling key weed species.
  2. Investigating weed management options that reduce the use of chemicals.

The proposed research will also start testing hitherto untested chemical active ingredients that meet FSC codes and may be suitable for registration in New Zealand for forestry purposes and will seek to understand how best to combine the use of FSC compliant herbicides with known non-chemical methods of weed control.

Information on the most effective FSC compliant herbicide options (for various weed species, tree species and climate combinations) will be summarised into guidelines and other technology transfer vehicles including websites and technology transfer meetings hosted for intended audiences.

Latest update

September 2013

To date we have implemented six screening trials across a range of sites to test promising alternative herbicides for use in forestry, either alone or in combination with other actives. Some of the chemicals being tested are either new to forestry or new to New Zealand. The screening trials were implemented over the period September to November 2012. Preliminary results will only be available at the end of the first growing season, in May 2013. These trials are aimed at screening herbicides and combinations thereof to identify the most effective, low impact alternatives that can be taken through to the next round of testing at a more operational scale.

Milestones 1-3 are on therefore on track and completed:

UPDATE

The series of 6 field trials implemented in the spring of 2012 were completed and have been reported. Despite some complications and particularly delays owing to drought and a slow weed response, the trials were completed successfully.

In essence the trials compared existing operational prescriptions for two industry critical (but FSC highly hazardous (HH) ranked) establishment herbicides with a series of alternatives ranging from mixes with the existing chemicals (to reduce intensity of active ingredient use) to mixes that were entirely devoid of HH ranked chemicals and controls that involved no treatment.

Results showed that at the end of the first growing season:

From these results a new trial series is proposed for spring 2013 to test the best range of options informed by the first series and including a total of 11 different treatments encompassing both Terbuthylazine mixes and HH free mixes. The focus of the trial series has also been informed by new information from FSC that indicates that Terbuthylazine may be removed from the FSC HH list, and other options that were not on the list may now be included.


Update

To date we have implemented six screening trials across a range of sites to test promising alternative herbicides for use in forestry, either alone or in combination with other actives. Some of the chemicals being tested are either new to forestry or new to New Zealand. The screening trials were implemented over the period September to November 2012. Preliminary results will only be available at the end of the first growing season, in May 2013. These trials are aimed at screening herbicides and combinations thereof to identify the most effective, low impact alternatives that can be taken through to the next round of testing at a more operational scale.

Milestones 1-3 are on therefore on track and completed:

Table 1: Location of sites and trial for the SFF field dose response trials

Trial Region Forest Company Location Compartment Date sprayed Soil Type Weeds spectrum
1 Central North Island, Rotorua Timberlands Kaingaroa, Waiotapu Rd 7 31/08/2012 Immature orthic pumice (sandy loam) Broom/grass/blackberry/fireweed
2 Nelson Nelson Forests Golden Downs, Gibbs Rd 37-Norths 30/08/2012 Alluvial Motueka River Grass annuals gorse, broom, regen
3 Central North Island, Rotorua Hancock Kinleith, Deer Rd KINL/152/48 16/10/2012 Immature orthic pumice (sandy loam) Fog grass, buddleia, bracken, scrub hardwoods.
4 Northland Rayonier Topuni 27 13/12/2012 Yellow Albic Ultic, Broom, fireweed, ghania, grass
5 Nelson Nelson Forests 721-Kainui, 4-Kainui 30/10/2012 Moutere Gravels Gorse, annuals, grass regen
6 Nelson Nelson Forests Golden Downs Ricketts 444-Slippery 30/10/2012 Erodible granite Broom