Suspicious canola crop damage under investigation

Suspicious canola crop damage under investigation

Cropping
The possibility that a canola crop in the Wimmera may have been deliberately poisoned has shocked the farming community.

The possibility that a canola crop in the Wimmera may have been deliberately poisoned has shocked the farming community.

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In what may be an Australia first if proven, police are investigating the potential deliberate poisoning of a canola crop in Victoria.

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POLICE are investigating a failed crop in Victoria's southern Wimmera region to see whether it has been deliberately poisoned.

A canola crop in the Glenorchy district has been killed by herbicide and Ararat Police's criminal investigation unit is investigating the cause.

"Potential deliberate damage is one of the avenues we are examining," said senior constable Jackson Seres.

While spray drift is responsible for significant crop damage across the country at this stage it is not believed it is the culprit in this instance.

S/C Seres said all avenues, such as potential accidental contamination of spray equipment were also being looked at but added the farmer did not believe there had been a spraying error to cause the damage.

He said that the poisoning angle did not centre around someone taking a boom spray and applying chemical directly to the paddock, but rather contaminating a water tank used to prepare tank mixes for spraying.

The farmer with the poisoned crop may not have even been the target of the alleged contamination as the water tank is shared by several neighbours.

Police have been given an estimated loss from the damage of $100,000.

Laboratory investigations are ongoing as to what the active ingredient that caused the damage was, with triasulfuron, widely used in common herbicides, nominated as one potential culprit given the way the damage presented.

It is believed the herbicide was applied to the crop at a post-emergent stage, likely to be some time in June.

Grains industry leaders were scratching their heads to think of a precedent.

While spray drift and accidental application of the wrong chemical by the farmer has torched crops in the past, no one could remember an example in broadacre cropping where spray equipment had been deliberately tampered with in order to sabotage a crop.

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