The im­por­tance of re­duc­ing spray drift from your pad­dock

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - Belinda Cal­lanan AgForce Weeds and AgVet Chem­i­cals

SUM­MER is al­most here and al­ready we are see­ing in­stances of spray drift with both vine­yards and cot­ton be­ing af­fected. From Cen­tral Queens­land to well into NSW crops are be­ing dam­aged.

Each year this hap­pens, and each year in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment does what it can to stop it, yet it keeps hap­pen­ing.

Peo­ple like Mary O’Brien (@spray­drift­girl) are blunt on what will hap­pen next – if we don’t use it prop­erly and stop the drift, we’ll lose it, or we’ll have a raft of re­stric­tions (for ex­am­ple no night spray­ing), lim­ited ac­cess and in­creased li­cens­ing re­quire­ments.

We of­ten com­plain about in­creased red tape and most of the time, rightly so.

Yet with some­thing like this, we have had our chances again and again, yet the is­sue per­sists. Soon Gov­ern­ment will be left with no choice.

The APVMA has changed the la­bel for 2,4-D (no spray­ing in in­ver­sion con­di­tions, down­wind manda­tory no spray zones, very coarse noz­zles and manda­tory record keep­ing) but clearly that is not enough.

These new rules, which came into ef­fect on Oc­to­ber 1, were a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween in­dus­try and the reg­u­la­tor to re­duce off-tar­get im­pacts by im­prov­ing the use of 2,4-D.

The changes should not change or re­strict other as­pects of the cur­rently ap­proved use pat­terns or prod­uct avail­abil­ity, yet they are a sig­nal that the reg­u­la­tor is not go­ing to stand by while the prob­lems with off tar­get im­pacts con­tinue.

This is re­ally in the hands of in­dus­try and we must all do our bit to en­sure what we do on our farms doesn’t have neg­a­tive im­pacts on what oth­ers do on theirs.

Ir­re­spec­tive of what we pro­duce, we must en­sure what we do does not dam­age the hard work of oth­ers, like those pro­duc­ing highly sus­cep­ti­ble crops like cot­ton or grapes. The chem­i­cal we spray must stay on the tar­get area.

Get to a work­shop on in­ver­sion, read up on un­der­stand­ing the sig­nals and change your prac­tices to re­duce drift so we can con­tinue to use 2,4-D safely with­out heavy handed gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion.

To help with im­prov­ing aware­ness, Aus­tralian Farm­ers has re­cently col­lated a range of stew­ard­ship tools to as­sist pro­duc­ers man­age drift.

These in­clude best prac­tice ref­er­ence guides for spray drift man­age­ment from the GRDC, Cot­ton Aus­tralia, CropLife and the lat­est APVMA re­quire­ments. Visit farm­ers.org.au/ar­ti­cles Spray drift Mit­i­ga­tion Re­sources for more in­for­ma­tion. If you are af­fected by drift, it is im­por­tant that you gather as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble to help agen­cies like Biose­cu­rity Queens­land

(13 25 23) in un­der­tak­ing their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

This in­cludes de­tails such as date and time; where it oc­curred; who ap­plied the chem­i­cal and how (plane, boom stray etc.); weather con­di­tions (air tem­per­a­ture, wind speed and di­rec­tion); if you sus­pect la­bel in­struc­tions were not fol­lowed; and, the ef­fects to crops, live­stock, health or the en­vi­ron­ment.

The ball is in our court, and hope­fully next sum­mer we won’t be dis­cussing drift or how to man­age broadleaf weeds with­out 2,4-D.

PHOTO: ELENKA PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

CHEM­I­CAL RISK: New rules be­tween in­dus­try and reg­u­la­tor help to re­duce off-tar­get im­pacts by im­prov­ing the use of 2,4-D.

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