Nick Ledgard and Thomas Paul ran six sustainable farming fund workshops (and one seminar) from March 25 to April 9, starting at Mid Dome in Southland and finishing in the Marlborough Sounds.  Numbers attending ranged from 16 through to 36, with regular representation from agencies such as DOC, MAF and regional councils, but variable numbers of farmers and land managers.  The field-days normally started with morning tea in a community hall or farmer’s woolshed, followed by a number of Powerpoint presentations updating on the South Island Wilding Conifer Management Group’s work over the past 3 years – plus information on any local wilding work.  After lunch, we moved into the field where the various techniques for controlling wildings could be demonstrated.  In this respect, the scrub-bar with spray attachment, recently developed by Wayne Godfrey of Independent Environmental Contracting Ltd., attracted much attention.  This, plus recent trials looking at new chemical mixes for broadcast spraying dense wildings, have added to the range of tools in the ‘toolbox’, although none could be described as the legendary ‘silver bullet’.
The workshops served their major purpose of improving the awareness of wilding risks and the techniques available for control, as well as alerting those managing wildings of the need to consider how their choice of control tools might influence subsequent vegetation successions.  Wilding control is not just a matter of wilding elimination, it is also the first step in moving towards a more desirable plant cover.