Plant Protection Research

plant-protection-collage.jpg We conduct research into organisms that damage or compete with plants, and investigate ways to manage them. 

Massey is a partner in the Bio-Protection Research Centre of Research Excellence, which is researching new, non-pesticide, sustainable ways to protect New Zealand's plant-based productive ecosystems from existing and potentially invasive pests, diseases and weeds.

For more information about our research activity, select individual researchers' names below.

Our expertise

Weed science

Our research focuses on weed-related issues in agriculture, horticulture and conservation.  This includes herbicide management and resistance, managing weeds with ground cover, weed control during revegetation and controlling pasture weeds with goats. 

For weed identification and control see the Massey weeds website.

Contact Dr Kerry Harrington



Our focus is on integrated pest management programmes. Insect behaviour research looks at reproduction and foraging, particularly the mechanisms behind sexual selection and sperm competition. In biological control, we aim to understand the mechanisms behind the success and failure of biological control using insect parasitoids. Our biosystematics programme focuses on longicorn or longhorn beetles.

For our insect ID service email

Contact Professor Qiao Wang


Plant pathology

Our research aim is to better understand the molecular and genetic basis of plant disease-resistance mechanisms. We are investigating how pathogen effectors suppress or activate plant immunity at the molecular level. We focus on the molecular mechanisms by which plant disease-resistance proteins confer immunity.

Find out more about our laboratory or

Contact Dr Kee Sohn 


Integrated pest management training

We explore advanced educational paradigms and technology to facilitate plant-protection training. These include web-based interactive scenarios and other active forms of learning.

Contact Dr Terry Stewart



Optimal weed control

A field trial was conducted in Palmerston North to assess weed-control options for establishing mixed swards of chicory (Cichorium intybus), narrow-leaved plantain (Plantago lanceolata), red clover (Trifolium pratense) and white clover (Trifolium repens), a pasture mixture currently popular for finishing lambs.

Haloxyfop safely controlled grass weeds, and mowing twice during the first few months of establishment helped control some broad-leaved weeds. Flumetsulam was the safest herbicide for controlling broad-leaved weeds, although it initially caused severe suppression of plantain. All other treatments caused unacceptable levels of damage to at least one of the sown species. If chicory was not included in the mix, then bentazone, paraquat/diquat and diuron could be used. For young clover-based pastures, hemlock (Conium maculatum) will be controlled better by flumetsulam or bentazone than 2,4-DB.

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