JUST weeks after the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) issued new regulations to do with usage of 2,4-D herbicides to reduce the risk of drift there have been reports down the east coast of summer crop damaged by chemical drift.
Spray application expert Mary O’Brien said she had been contacted about drift events in locations ranging from central Queensland to as far south as Griffith in the Riverina.
“It’s a real concern, I’ve been a strong advocate of making sure you do everything right to minimise the risk of inversion but it does not appear the message is getting through.
“If we’re not careful there’s the real risk this chemistry will be taken off us, and I imagine the people farming in areas where there is not a summer cropping industry will not be pleased to lose a valuable chemistry because of incidents like these,” Ms O’Brien said.
Her comments on drift incidents were backed up by an agronomist in the Moree district who declined to be named.
He said a client had lost 150 hectares of cotton due to drift damage from an unknown chemical.
“We don’t know what it chemical it was exactly but the damage has certainly been done.”
“It is still early enough to replant, but the cost of sourcing new seed and replanting is going to be around $100/ha, so it is a substantial cost.”
Further to this, Ms O’Brien said she had heard of issues with cotton in CQ, grape vines that suffered from chemical damage in the St George area and 34ha of cotton damaged at Griffith.
Ms O’Brien has previously spoken out about the risks of night spraying.
“For me, in order to manage risk properly, I would not be spraying at night because the risk of inversion is just too great,” she said.
“In virtually all instances in Australian conditions over virtually all year, the risk of inversion grows at night so it is something you have to weigh up very carefully.”
Grain Producers South Australia chairman Wade Dabinett said grain growers in SA, which a strong viticulture sector, have long understood the need for minimising drift.
“People who farm around grape areas know they have to be super careful not to jeopardise other people’s livelihoods,” Mr Dabinett said.
“I think we are doing the right thing and showing we are good stewards of products such as 2,4-D, which is in our interest as we want to retain the chemistry.”