Award Category: Wanganui-Manawatu
Richard Martin Private Land-Manwatu-Wanganui Region
Darwin s barberry control on Private Land Rangiwahia
Richard was born and raised into a farming family near Kimbolton. He took over a farm on Macbeth Road KImbolton during the 1960 s. The farm possessed a piece of remnant native forest still present to this day. This native block contained its share of weeds which we now term pest plants. Darwins barberry (Berberis darwinii) was one of the weeds present and was infesting the bush. It probably originated from a homestead garden and was planted sometime prior to the 1940 s. It was here that Richard was first introduced to its less likeable qualities.
In 1970 Richard moved to Rangiwahia and began farming there.
Richard s arch enemy Darwin s was here too along with a suite of other weeds such as blackberry and the more common variety Barberry (Berberis glaucocarpa)
Yearly weed control was the standard practise to keep the land productive. Darwin s was in a league of its own-Of all the weeds Richard tackled Darwin s was the hardest to kill. He describes it as tenacious . Back then Darwin s could be found mostly centred around the old church yard, in McKinnon s Reserve (native bush reserve) and along the sides of the kiwitea stream that runs the length of the locality. They decided to plant pine trees along the banks of the stream on their property. Hindsight is a great thing but now in Richard s opinion this was the worse decision they could have made, blackberry quickly took over but was able to be sprayed/competed out by the trees but the pine trees grew and they provided a home for Darwin s barberry to seed and grow. The pine block was now a breeding ground for Darwin s.
During the seventies isolated plants could be found occasionally on the hills away from the church yard, McKinnon s Reserve and their pine block at Rangi.
Brian Drake (noxious plant officer) at the time suggested all Richard needed to do was keep it of the hills so during the 80 s that was what was done, it was controlled on the hills. This advice really wasn t good in hindsight, experts today and Richard experienced first hand that its spread was via seed. From the 80 s it was starting to spread on to the hills to the east on properties not so well maintained and then into the DOC Rangiwahia Reserve. This large bush block was originally left to provide a water catchment for the township of Rangiwahia a Department of Conservation Scenic Reserve.
During this time the county council were controlling weeds on road reserves only. The Rabbit Board owned land where the old dairy shed now stands so little was done there too.
From the 60 s Richard had experienced the difficulty of control and witnessed the spread of Darwin s barberry over the course of 20 years.
, Seen what it s capable of
, Realised its spread via seed
, Experienced first hand the difficulty of control especially compared to other weeds
, Its a weed that can threaten productive land, stock will nibble a plant but it still persists
Around the year 2000 (15 years ago) Richard started his own full on programme targeting Darwin s barberry in and around Rangiwahia.
He has since been a strong advocate for its control.
He organised a working bee that tackled the churchyard, 6 local people armed with chainsaws, tractor and trailer removed all the Darwin s from the section. A massive job.
During the 1990 s Local Community meetings held at the Rangiwahia Hall the topic of the reserve and the Darwin s always came up and was discussed.
In the early 2001 Horizons Regional Council Regional Plant Pest Management Strategy classed Darwin s as Occupier control and from then landowners was legally obliged to control their Darwin s. Manawatu district council were instructed by notice to do something about the reserve in 2003 and its infestation of Darwin s barberry. The 2007 RPPMS saw Darwin s classed as zero-density in Rangiwahia and Horizons began active widespread management of Darwin s on farmland beyond the immediate vicinity of Rangiwahia .In Horizons Regional Council Regional Pest Plant Management Strategy Darwin s barberry is classed as zero-density at Rangiwahia so have been active in its control since 2007.In a small community Richards commitment, views and local knowledge on this pest plant has been valuable when Horizons has been undertaking control work.
Nowadays Richard still visits the family farm ( now run by his son)every week when the weather permits and is a regular feature in the area with the c-dax sprayer on a quad bike spraying Darwin s where-ever he sees it. He thinks a 2 year cycle is suitable for control and always takes on the mature fruiting plants before seedlings.
As a pest plant Richard thinks after 40 years association with Darwin s we will never be able to say that s it! He should know he s had a life time of experience.
Richard thinks eradication is not something we can achieve with this one. But in the meantime he ll keep on doing his bit to keep it under control in and around Rangiwahia.
Pictures, supporting material to follow.( emailed)
Cheers Neil G.