Otago vine­yards’ new spray-drift tool


‘‘Spray drift in­ci­dents can oc­cur up to 30km away from spray ap­pli­ca­tion.’’

A con­trac­tor spray­ing amenity plant­ings re­cently with a growth hor­mone next to a vine­yard in a wind is one of sev­eral spray drift in­ci­dents that have prompted the Cen­tral Otago Wine­grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion to take ac­tion.

The as­so­ci­a­tion has spent the past four years pro­duc­ing a vine­yard lo­ca­tor map to help pre­vent multi-mil­lion dol­lar dam­age from spray drift.

Cen­tral Otago Wine­grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion past pres­i­dent and de­vel­oper of the Cen­tral Otago Vine­yard Lo­ca­tor Map James Dicey said agri­chem­i­cal spray drift in­ci­dents re­sult in mil­lions of dol­lars worth of dam­age to lo­cal vine­yards.

‘‘We had an in­ci­dent I was no­ti­fied of last week. A lo­cal con­trac­tor who should know bet­ter was spray­ing amenity plant­ings with a growth hor­mone right next door to a vine­yard in a wind. The spray has dam­aged the grow­ing tips, af­fected leaf growth and killed a num­ber of in­flo­res­ences (flow­ers which be­come fruit). The abil­ity to re­coup the loss is through the tort of neg­li­gence through the court sys­tem, an ex­pen­sive and risky process for both par­ties, which is why we wish to pre­vent this from be­com­ing is­sues in the first place.

‘‘Spray drift in­ci­dents can oc­cur up to 30km away from spray ap­pli­ca­tion so it is vi­tally im­por­tant that farm­ers and lo­cal spray con­trac­tors are aware of neigh­bour­ing vine­yards in or­der to min­imise any threat of dam­age from spray drift. Over the past few years we have had a num­ber of spray drift in­ci­dents, re­sult­ing in ma­jor dam­age to vine­yards. It’s heart-break­ing for the own­ers and all con­cerned.’’

Grapes were re­silient but they were very sen­si­tive to dam­age, Dicey said.

‘‘In a typ­i­cal event the crop is lost and the shoots ter­mi­nate or stop grow­ing. They tend to grow out of the dam­age but the ef­fect is felt in grow­ing habit and yield for a cou­ple of years and has a ma­jor fi­nan­cial im­pact on the busi­ness.’’

Six hun­dred copies of the map, ac­com­pa­nied with a ‘‘Best Prac­tice’’ Spray Guide­line, would be dis­trib­uted to all farm­ers and spray con­trac­tors in Cen­tral Otago in a bid to bring at­ten­tion to this se­ri­ous is­sue and to min­imise the risk to vine­yards.

The Cen­tral Otago Vine­yard Maps are avail­able from the Cen­tral Otago Wine­grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.


Re­cent dam­age from an agri­chem­i­cal spray drift in­ci­dent in Cen­tral Otago.

James Dicey

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