HERBICIDE DRIFT RISKS AS PRODUCERS BEGIN WEED SPRAYING

Spray drift becomes a risk as producers commence spraying for weed control after summer rains

Spray drift becomes a risk as producers commence spraying for weed control after summer rains

Biosecurity SA says recent heavy, widespread rain has had producers looking to start summer weed spraying straight away.

Manager of Rural Chemical Operations in PIRSA’s Biosecurity SA, Michael McManus, said that with increased spraying came the potential for increased risk of unintended summer spray drift. Producers need to be particularly careful that their spraying does not cause damage or contaminate neighbouring production.

Spray drift can have a widespread impact, not isolated to immediate neighbouring paddocks and the impacts include:

• Human health (safety of workers, neighbours and the general public)

• Product integrity

• The environment (native vegetation and waterways)

• The availability of chemicals for future use; and

• Friction between neighbours and the communities who live and work together.

“These impacts are both economic and social and we’re urging herbicide users to be especially vigilant during summer, always follow best practice procedures and, please, don’t cut corners when you’re spraying,” Mr McManus said.

“The recently updated Code of Practice –  Summer Weed Control Brochure  provides an excellent reference on the improved standards expected from all spray operators.

“Spraying during unsuitable weather conditions is currently the biggest single cause of spray drift. Significant resources are used to track down chemical trespass incidents reported to Biosecurity SA.

“Interpreting weather conditions and understanding the presence or possible development of a surface temperature inversion are critical factors in reducing spray drift risk during summer months.

“Producers using Group I herbicides in South Australia should now be implementing the new regulations and ensuring that the chemical user (the person operating the spray equipment) is trained in a prescribed chemical users’ (PCU) course and that they are keeping accurate and complete records.”

Mr McManus also reminded users of the continued ban on the use of high volatile ester 2-4, D (commonly retailed with Ester 800 as part of the brand name) from 1 September to 30 April, with a total ban coming into force after 31 August 2014.