The importance of reducing spray drift from your paddock
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.
CHEMICAL RISK: New rules between industry and regulator help to reduce off-target impacts by improving the use of 2,4-D.