Prickle spray too poisonous

A report has been called for on the consequence of not spraying prickle weed or Onehunga weed. Photo: Bob O’Kennon.

Spraying Tauranga City’s grassed areas for Onehunga Weed may be limited in future to public playing fields where people wear shoes, because of the weed sprays’ increasing toxicity.

The prickly pest is increasingly resistant to Tordon and Versatil, but the staff recommendation they be replaced by Image is opposed by the council’s Toxic Agri-chemical Advisory Forum.

The spray Image is a combination of three ingredients, one of which is not approved for use in Europe, says TAAF spokesperson Jodie Brunning at the city council’s Environment Committee this week.

“For example the EPA has recently denied this (Ioxynil) as a product that can be on sale to the public because of undue exposure to toddlers,” says Jodie.

“The persistence of the active ingredients is particularly concerning because our agrichemical policy only allows for signage for up to two days. These chemicals persist for 10 to 60 days.

“Which is why if we are to use it on active sports fields, it’s with shoes on.”

Currently Tordon Gold, Tordon Brushkiller, Versatil are sprayed in Tauranga city’s active and passive reserves. TAAF recommends limiting spraying to active (bookable) sports fields, with use restricted to once per year in active reserves, and that they are not used mixed with any other Tordon product, Versatil or Image within that 12 month period.

And that signage recommending footwear is worn in places of frequent agrichemical use.

The recommendations are the consequence of three issues - the increased toxicity of the potential replacement Onehunga herbicide Image - particularly to children; the risk of future resistance to the replacement herbicide is extremely likely and that efficacy must be protected now; and with knowledge that the herbicide Image has active ingredients that persistent beyond the 48 hours city council warning signs are displayed.

The ‘creeping toxicity’ of using more and more powerful chemicals to knock down increasingly resistant weeds is a public health concern, says Jodie.

“TAAF consider it is timely that council understand that creeping toxicity and the risk this involves is not in the public interest.”

Which is why TAAF is recommending all passive reserves, including ’key destinations’ like Memorial Park, transition to spray free reserves.

TAAF also wants all active reserves with a more intensive spray regimes display signs recommending footwear be used at all times, and links (Q code) to the TCC webpage advising of the agrichemicals used seasonally.

TAAF reports to elected members and their recommendations were omitted from the staff report. The committee has called for council staff to look at the TAAF proposals and report back at the April meeting.

Speaking after the meeting committee chairman Steve Morris says they want to hear from staff what the consequences would be if they stopped spraying Onehunga weed.

“I think there would be a bit of push-back or back lash from the community on that,” says Steve.

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Horticulturalist's suggestion:

Posted on 03-03-2018 21:31 | By Concerned citizen

Why doesn’t council just have grass species that compete with prickle weed? For example, kikuyu. Even with kikuyu, you need to mow no shorter than 8 or 9 cm. In this modern age, spray free parks are ever increasingly evidently needed. TAAF is dead right by the way. Where have they been in the past 100 years?!

Pickle weed spray

Posted on 03-03-2018 09:08 | By maunganui

It is the same chemical used at the base of the Norfolk pine trees at Mount Maunganui that caused them to deteriorate with die back.Bryan


Posted on 02-03-2018 19:57 | By Capt_Kaveman

Council had brains, when been raining these come out pretty easy by hand now kids caught doing dumb stuff can do this for the community work they have to do, then once pulled out let the grass grow, notice how the areas where the grass was let to grow prickles are of no more, when i brought my place all prickles were gone with one 2hr session and none ever returned

Hot Grass electrothermal weeder

Posted on 02-03-2018 18:55 | By jed

It sounds very labour intensive. you need to touch every individual plant right? But agree, chemicals suck. Onehunga weed is a nightmare.

Park usage will stop

Posted on 02-03-2018 15:21 | By Tauranga Tom

I don’t want prickles and want to be able to enjoy being outside without having shoes. Think about peoples health and the impact. If our parks have heaps of prickles no one will use them and then they won’t get the health benefits associated with being outdoors and being active.

Spray free and save

Posted on 02-03-2018 13:29 | By Murray.Guy

Surely it is perfectly reasonable for our cities soul Premier destination Park to be safe and spray free. The prickle weed impact can be mitigated to a large degree coupled with reduced watering requirements by increasing the grass height when it is mowen. In 2007 I moved resolution for Memorial Park to be sprayfree which was rejected by council with the additional $80,000 increase in cost according to Staff.

Alternative to Spraying

Posted on 02-03-2018 12:00 | By Kazel

The Hot Grass electrothermal weeder kills Onehunga weed instantly, and without leaving any chemical residues. It kills the weeds from a single touch by using high voltage electricity. After treatment, the site is completely safe for immediate re-entry. Stopping chemical herbicide sprays in our public parks does not need to lead to an infestation of prickles. There are alternatives already available.


Posted on 02-03-2018 11:21 | By Mike42

Is it necessary to spray for prickles if people have to wear shoes anyway?