Cane farmers’ hands tied
LOCAL cane farmers are furious they have been banned from using an important herbicide until April.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has stopped the use of Diuron in high risk situations to protect aquatic ecosystems.
Diuron is a herbicide used for the control of both broadleaf and grass weeds in agriculture.
Local canegrowers use it to control the weeds growing in and around their crop.
Mossman cane farmer Drew Watson said many canegrowers in the region were not happy at being told they have to stop using the chemical until April.
“We were given no warning at all by these people and told to stop using it immediately,” Mr Watson said.
“Many of us had only recently bought new supplies of Diuron to begin spraying our crops but now we have buy another type of herbicide which is more expensive and not as effective as Diuron in getting rid of weeds.”
Mr Watson said they were told by the department the suspension was introduced because of the coming wet season and would remain in force until April.
“As a pre-emergent herbicide Diuron is a good product and growers understand that it is best to spray when the cane has grown to a certain height which in turns helps to create shade cover and this is then the best time to spray,” Mr Watson said.
Canegrowers has vowed to ramp up its campaign to have the temporary measure overturned.
The APVMA announced this week that while it would allow continued use of diuron at 1.8 kg per hectare, it will put in place a temporary hold on use of the product until March 31.
Canegrowers environment manager Matt Kealley said this measure was akin to slamming the door in the face of growers who use the product carefully for good farming outcomes. “Diuron is central to farming productivity and the blanket non-use period will cause weeds to get out of hand and will cost many millions of dollars of lost productivity across Australia to our famers,” he said.