Infected vines to be torched

MAF Biosecurity has announced burning of infected kiwifruit vines is due to start at a special incineration zone at the TECT All Terrain Park on State Highway 36.

MAF Psa infection response manager David Yard says a never before used incineration machine will burn the infected vines.

The air curtain incinerator was originally purchased by the department for the disposal of animal carcasses if there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in New Zealand.

A large, deep pit will be dug near the terrain park and the air curtain will be placed over it.

When the infected vines are set alight, the machine blows across the top and redirects hot air back down into the pit, pushing temperatures up to 2000 degrees Celsius.

Psa is an airborne infection, but David is confident this method of burning will not spread the bacteria further.

'We believe this is the safest and most appropriate method to use.

'What we wouldn't want is to start a bonfire because there's a danger leaves and contaminated bits of material could fly all over the district.”

Burning was scheduled to start on Thursday night, but MAF had to work through legal requirements with the Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

Deep burial of vines is also being considered if the amount of infected orchard material becomes too great.

David says deep burial may be carried out at the infected orchards but growers need MAF approval before that goes ahead.

'There are some other possible options to assist it (disposal) and we are investigating those, but I don't really want to go into those because they are still in the investigation stage.”

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