Pasture pest hazard identification

It is important to know the biosecurity hazards to the pastoral sector. That is why MPI and the pastoral sector have worked together and developed a list of pests that are biosecurity hazards to the most important New Zealand pastures.

Accompanying the list of hazards is a report, Biosecurity Risk Management of Entry Pathways for Pasture Pests, that describes the current biosecurity protection that exists across the New Zealand biosecurity system. These two documents and the Frequently Asked Questions below need to be read together.

Pasture Pests Hazard Identification (offsite link to mpi.govt.nz)
This report was co-funded by MPI and pastoral sector partners Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Deer Industry New Zealand and Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand. The report identifies biosecurity hazards (potential threats) to New Zealand’s important pasture species. Pasture pest hazards are:

  • pasture pests in other countries but not present in New Zealand; and
  • have the potential to establish in New Zealand because the environment is suitable; and
  • have potential to cause negative impacts to pastures once here.

Biosecurity Risk Management of Entry Pathways for Pasture Pests (offsite link to mpi.govt.nz)
A description of how New Zealand’s biosecurity system manages the potential entry pathways of pasture pests.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Pasture Pests Hazard Identification report

Why was the pasture pest hazard identification report produced?

Representatives of the pastoral sector (Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Deer Industry New Zealand and Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand) and MPI recognised there was a gap in knowledge about the biosecurity hazards (potential threats) to pasture species in New Zealand.

It is important to know the biosecurity hazards to the pastoral sector because it enables an analysis of the existing pre-border, border and post-border biosecurity protections to determine whether they are appropriate, or whether there are additional actions that could be taken.

Who produced the report?

MPI and the pastoral sector worked in partnership to scope and co-fund the report. An independent researcher was commissioned to do most of the research, analysis and writing; some sections of the report were done by MPI staff.

The partnership and collaboration between MPI and the pastoral sector resulted in a functional report that was scoped to meet the needs of all partners, and that delivered good value for money.

What do the report findings tell us?

The report has produced a list of pests that are biosecurity hazards to the most important New Zealand pastures. It tells us there are dozens of pasture pests in other countries that are not present in New Zealand, but have the potential to establish in New Zealand (because the environment here is suitable) and the potential to cause negative impacts to its pastures. The group of pests identified as posing the greatest threat is dominated by moths and beetles.

What does the report not tell us?

The report does not assess whether the pests are risks, in the sense of their likelihood to enter and establish here. An analysis of other types of information would be required in order to assess the likelihood of an incursion of each the pests. For example we would need to consider details of the existing risk management already undertaken within the New Zealand biosecurity system.

Does the New Zealand biosecurity system provide any protection against the hazards identified?

Yes. An accompanying report, Biosecurity Risk Management of Entry Pathways for Pasture Pests, describes the current biosecurity protection that exists across the New Zealand biosecurity system. Every pathway identified as a potential entry pathway for the exotic pasture pests considered in the hazard identification work is already subject to risk management measures under the existing biosecurity system. Risk management measures are applied pre-border (i.e. before the imported item leaves the country of export), at the border (e.g. inspections and treatments), and at post-border locations (e.g. surveillance and response activities).

Does the Pasture Pest Hazard Identification report indicate whether there are holes in our biosecurity system?

No, the Pasture Pest Hazard Identification report is not able to answer that question, because it does not delve into the appropriate information. The report does not assess the end-to-end integrity or breadth of all risk management measures relevant to either a particular pest or entry pathways.

Instead, the report indicates how pests could potentially enter New Zealand. It indicates the types of commodities the pest could have an association with in its country or countries of origin, prior to pre-border biosecurity measures being applied. For example, the report identifies that the common click beetle Agriotes sputator has potential to be associated with used agricultural machinery, prior to the machinery going through the necessary cleaning and checks before it can be certified for export to New Zealand.

Refer to the accompanying report Biosecurity Risk Management of Entry Pathways for Pasture Pests for a description of how the potential pathways of entry are managed. A next step for MPI is to do case studies of specific pests to confirm whether the current biosecurity protection against pasture pests is appropriate, or whether additional biosecurity interventions are warranted.

How are the results being used?

MPI has used the report to identify pests that are good candidates for full pest risk assessments. The pest risk assessments will determine the level of risk that the pests pose, taking into consideration the efficacy and scope of existing biosecurity risk management measures.

The pests of most interest to MPI are those that:

  • affect multiple industries or industries of significant economic importance to New Zealand;
  • occur in countries from which we import products;
  • have potential to enter New Zealand through multiple pathways.

Pest risk assessments have been started on two pests. Key factors to assess are the likelihoods of:

  • the pests entering New Zealand (called “entry”);
  • the pests moving off any imported item with which they are associated and onto a suitable host plant (called ‘exposure’) so they can continue development through a lifecycle;
  • the pests establishing a new population as a result of “entry” and “exposure” events.

The risk assessments will also assess the size of the impact to pastures, and to other crops in New Zealand, and finally whether the current risk management measures in pre-border and border locations provide an appropriate level of protection.

Deer Industry New Zealand looks forward to the outcome of the pest risk assessments and will look to inform and engage deer industry participants in any particular biosecurity measures participants can take to reduce the likelihood of pest establishment in their pastures.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is keen to take a closer look at the findings of the report and ensuing risk assessments to see where useful improvements to the biosecurity system can be made. In particular, Beef + Lamb New Zealand may seek to complement its recently published Drystock Biosecurity Guidelines with more information about exotic threats to pasture, thereby increasing the contribution farmers can make to surveillance for these pests.

The Dairy Industry will look to use the findings of this report in work around on-farm biosecurity practices and awareness.  We look forward to the risk assessments that are underway – these will provide further potential to make improvements in preparedness for pasture pests.  

Page last updated: 4 May 2016