EPA approves new fungicide to control club root

A new fungicide which protects potatoes and cabbages has been approved by the Environmental Protection Authority for use in New Zealand, subject to conditions.

The applicant, Nufarm, sought approval to import or manufacture Amicus for the control of the diseases club root in transplanted brassica crops and powdery scab in potatoes.

Amicus comes in the form of water-dispersible granules, applied to brassicas as a pre-plant seedling drench and to potatoes as an in-furrow spray.

During the application process, Nufarm submitted that Amicus is a low-risk and cost effective tool to benefit disease control and resistance management in the horticultural industry.

“In granting approval for Amicus, strict rules have been set for its use. These include that it can only be applied once a year, at a restricted amount. Limits have also been applied to prevent spray drift,” says the Environmental Protection Authority’s acting General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Clark Ehlers.

“This product can only be applied by people who are trained to safely use these types of substances.

“The active ingredient, amisulbrom, is new to New Zealand, but already approved for use in Australia, Europe, and Japan. It is under evaluation in the USA.”

Read the full decision on Amicus (PDF, 872KB)

Watch this short video to learn how the EPA makes decisions about hazardous substances and new organisms

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority 

EPA review identifies 18 hazardous substances for reassessment

Tea tree oil is among several hazardous substances which have met the criteria for reassessment by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

The authority has identified the need for changes to the hazard classifications of 18 substances, based on significant new information it has identified or received. The substances include pesticides, fumigants, veterinary medicines, and cosmetics.

Many ingredients in cosmetic products and toiletries have hazardous properties. This includes those that are “natural”, for example, essential oils.

Tea tree oil can cause skin and eye irritation. However, there is no detail currently listed on how toxic it is to breathe in.

“Under these changes, an inhalation warning would be added to the hazard classification for tea tree oil. This would be primarily for the benefit of manufacturers, who handle the substance in large quantities,” says the EPA’s acting General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Clark Ehlers.

“Consumers, who generally only use a little tea tree oil at a time, should not be concerned by the proposed changes.” Continue reading

Mite might trim old man’s beard

A gall mite may be introduced to New Zealand to control the pervasive weed old man’s beard, if an application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) succeeds.

The weed forms dense, permanent masses with heavy layered stems that smother and collapse underlying vegetation.

Heavy infestations prevent regeneration, leading to loss of native species in affected areas. This can open vegetation to invasion by other weeds.

Old man’s beard can also scramble over the ground, destroying low-growing plant communities on riverbanks, and in coastal and other sensitive habitats.”

“It colonises open forests, forest margins, shrublands, riversides, cliffs, bushtracks and hedgerows. It is also a troublesome urban weed. The vines can extend as far as 20 metres,” ,” says Dr Clark Ehlers, EPA senior advisor New Organisms.

Horizons Regional Council has applied to the authority to introduce the gall mite, Aceria vitalbae, on behalf of the National Biocontrol Collective, comprised of 14 regional councils and the Department of Conservation.

While old man’s beard, Clematis vitalba, is a member of the Ranunculaceae family, of which there are nine native Clematis species and four native genera in the same subfamily, laboratory tests and overseas experience suggest the gall mite is unlikely to colonise other species of Clematis.

Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research  is the science provider for the application, and consulted widely before choosing six exotic Clematis species or hybrids for host range testing at the University of Belgrade in Serbia.

According to the applicant, the results suggest that the gall mite is expected to effectively colonise only old man’s beard in New Zealand. Occasional galls may be expected on exotic, non-target Clematis species, but the presence of low numbers of mites is unlikely to cause them damage.

The application says that old man’s beard causes environmental damage throughout most of New Zealand, often in distant or inaccessible areas of high conservation value. Most infestations go unmanaged.

Biological control by the gall mite could provide a safe and sustainable alternative to mechanical and chemical methods of control, the applicant says. The gall mite could also disperse to isolated infestations that are inaccessible, or unknown to land owners. It would persist from year to year.

“Adult gall mites are less than one millimetre long,” Dr Ehlers notes. “They do not fly, but disperse on the wind. They attack old man’s beard by sucking out plant juices and creating tumour-like galls on leaves and shoots. This often leads to the death of that part of the plant.”

The applicant notes that successful biological control of the weed would mean reduced costs for regional councils, the Department of Conservation and other land owners. Five regional councils recently estimated they spend approximately $760,000 per year to fight old man’s beard.

Public submissions on this application open on Wednesday 18 July 2018 and close at 5pm on 29 August 2018.

View application details and information

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority