Cane farm­ers’ hands tied

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

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.

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