News

Don't get the drift - think before you spray

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Think about your neighbours, particularly with vineyards and don’t underestimate the potential distance of impact before spraying weeds this spring PIRSA Biosecurity SA reminds producers.


Manager, Rural Chemical Operations at PIRSA Biosecurity SA Michael McManus said actively growing grapevines are highly susceptible to off-target herbicides.

“Earlier this year we saw off-target damage reported in both the Clare Valley and Riverland which have been the subject of investigations by PIRSA, however consideration before planning any spraying operation we believe is a key to avoiding such issues,” he said.

“It is vitally important to be aware of sensitive crops in your surrounding area and check that weather conditions are suitable for spraying before you start.

“Being careless when spraying can not only result in unnecessary damage to someone else’s crops but can also hit the hip pocket. Biosecurity SA will pursue all reports of anyone who has either deliberately or negligently caused damage to others by not following regulatory requirements. If caught offences can carry a maximum penalty of $35,000.

“We therefore urge farmers not to spray in inversion conditions, keep their booms no higher than 50 cm above the target and to slow down.”

This reminder on spray drift awareness follows the issuing of new label instructions on 2,4-D products by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), which came into effect earlier this month.

Mr McManus said the new instructions, are a direct result of spray drift damage from 2,4-D products in the past. PIRSA Biosecurity SA, along with the Riverland/Northern Mallee Spray Drift Group, provided feedback to APVMA during their development.

The instructions aim to address the risk of spray drift damage to non- target crops and will include new mandatory label requirements to produce very coarse (VC) droplets for all 2,4-D products. There are also advisory instructions specifically for 2,4-D use in cereals, fallow and pasture between 1 October and 15 April for summer weed control aimed at producing extremely coarse(EC) to ultra-coarse (UC) droplet sizes.

“They also include instructions for mandatory no spray zones, more clearly defined mandatory instructions for suitable weather conditions and application techniques, and detailed mandatory record keeping for all users,” he said.

Grain Producers SA (GPSA) Director Peter Cousins, who was also instrumental in establishing GPSA’s Hit Your Target campaign in 2017, welcomes the implementation of the new label requirements and believes they will assist grain producers in minimising spray drift.

“The use of Group I herbicides such as 2,4-D is sometimes the difference between profit and loss for growers,” he said. “So they are an important part of our tool kit as they are effective and cheap compared to other herbicides.

“However unless the right steps are taken to minimise and reduce off-target damage there is a risk access to such chemicals will not be there in the future or they will be become restricted herbicides that will require more training before purchase and use.

“Therefore it is vitally important that all growers are aware of the various steps they need to put in place. So following these new label instructions will help them to stay on top of any potential issue before they spray.” For information on avoiding spray drift and best practice chemical use visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity/rural_chemicals/chemical_use_best_practice. For information on the new APVMA 2,4-D labels visit www.apvma.gov.au

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