The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is reminding landholders and contractors to use herbicides and pesticides responsibly this autumn to avoid spray drift, which is avoidable and can damage the surrounding environment and cost other farmers growing sensitive crops thousands of dollars in lost revenue.
The reminder comes as recent rains have triggered weed growth on land being prepared for winter cropping.
EPA Director Regulatory Operations Regional West Gary Whytcross said the EPA will be investigating reports of spray drift by examining spray records and the qualifications of registered users in affected areas to ensure they understand the rules and are using products safely.
“Our message to users is a simple one – read product labels carefully, monitor local weather conditions and communicate with your surrounding neighbours ahead of time.
“We’ll also be reminding users not to spray when it’s hot or windy or during temperature inversions, which are most common early in the morning, in the evening and through the night. We will also be checking that the right equipment is used as well as reminding operators not to travel too fast while spraying.
“The misuse or mishandling of these chemicals can pose harm to the community and impact on the surrounding environment, including damaging native vegetation and non-target crops, such as cotton, grapes and tomatoes,” Mr Whytcross said.
Group 1 herbicides such as Arylpicolinate, Benzoic Acid, Phenoxy, Pyridine and Quinoline carboxylic acid contain volatile chemicals that when sprayed under the wrong weather can drift considerable distances and affect any sensitive areas in its path.
The EPA regulates the use of herbicides and pesticides in NSW, including those used in agriculture, on public land and in commercial and domestic premises, through the Pesticides Act 1999. Under the Pesticides Act and Pesticides Regulation landholders are required to:
Check the product label carefully before spraying
Comply with the directions for use on the label
Keep accurate records
Check weather conditions before and regularly during spraying and stop if conditions deteriorate and become unsuitable
Herbicide and pesticide misuse and failing to meet any of the above requirements can result in regulatory action.
Anyone with a concern, or knowledge of a spray drift incident or pesticide misuse in their local area, should contact the EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555.