Cereal and grain producers in the Mid North will have a new tool at their disposal this summer to assist with their summer weed control programs and help avoid spray drift.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the introduction of the new $1.4 million Mid North Mesonet system will be a boon to producers planning any spraying operations.
The new system features 40 state of the art localised automatic weather stations across the Mid North region.
Managed by Ag Excellence Alliance, the Mid North Mesonet system allows producers - through their mobile phones and computers - to assess more applicable, up to date weather information, and in particular to identify weather inversions near their properties.
"These automatic weather stations, which will eventually link to the new network being installed in the Riverland and Murraylands, are a critical investment to ensure producers have all the necessary data to make responsible informed decisions in managing their properties," said Minister Whetstone.
"With this information farmers can avoid spraying when weather conditions indicate spray drift is likely. Having such a tool at their disposal should not only help producers avoid spray drift incidents but also assist in meeting their legal requirements when undertaking spraying operations."
Minister Whetstone said being careless when spraying can inflict unnecessary damage to someone else's crops and can come back to hit the hip pocket of the property owner.
"Estimates put the potential loss of value of agricultural production in the Mid North, Riverland and Murraylands from spray drift at over $430 million per annum, so it is imperative the risk is addressed and finding high tech ways to make that happen really puts South Australia at the forefront," said Minister Whetstone.
"However the State Government will not step back from its obligations and will pursue all reports of anyone who has either deliberately or negligently caused damage to others by not following the regulatory requirements. If caught, offences can carry a maximum penalty of $35,000.
"Consideration before planning any spraying operation is a key to avoiding any-off target spray incident and I advise producers not to underestimate the potential distance of impact before spraying weeds. While the Mesonet is a new and extremely valuable tool, growers will still need to measure, assess and record the weather at the sites they are proposing to spray."
For information on avoiding spray drift and best practice chemical use, including the industry endorsed Code of Practice for Summer Weed Control, visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity/rural_chemicals/chemical_use_best_practice.
For information on the current Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) 2,4-D requirements visit www.apvma.gov.au.