News

Biosecurity SA investigating spray drift damage in the Riverland and Mid North

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Reports of chemical damage to grape vines caused by spray drift are being investigated by PIRSA Biosecurity SA in both the Clare Valley and Riverland.


Off-target damage to grapevines has been an ongoing issue in viticultural and horticultural areas adjacent to broad acre cropping across Australia over the last decade with the move away from cultivation and towards herbicides for summer weed control,

Certain weather conditions, such as inversions, can result in spray drift damage tens of kilometres from the application site, so producers must consider that sensitive crops may be located some distance away when planning a spray operation.

PIRSA through Biosecurity SA takes this issue very seriously. While investigations can be time consuming and spray drift origins difficult to trace due to rapidly changing weather conditions, Biosecurity SA will pursue all reports of anyone who has either deliberately or negligently caused damage to others by not following regulatory requirements. If caught offences can carry a maximum penalty of $35,000.

In April 2017 Biosecurity SA successfully prosecuted a Naracoorte farmer, who was found guilty of three charges in relation to the spray drift of herbicides and fined $15,000.

Anyone who suspects spray drift damage is encouraged to call the Chemical Trespass Hotline on 1300 799 684 to report it.

Visit our webpage for further information on avoiding spray drift and best practice chemical.

Quotes attributable to Manager Rural Chemicals, Michael McManus

Extensive education programs about chemical use are run by both Biosecurity SA and industry groups, and it is disappointing to see spray drift incidents still occurring through ignorance, negligence or poor management practices.

We rely on the entire farming community to use chemicals as per the mandatory label requirements, Biosecurity SA therefore reminds farmers to consider their neighbours and abide by regulatory requirements when spraying.

Correct use of agricultural chemicals maximises the cost effective use of chemicals and the quality and yield of crops. However, when used incorrectly, they can impact on your neighbours, local communities and trade.

When spray drift incidents or suspected incidents occur neighbours need to notify Biosecurity SA immediately so we can take action. Reporting chemical misuse in a timely manner is critical to protecting our crops and achieving compliance. If farmers don’t report incidents, we can’t stop poor practises by those few who are letting the whole industry and community down.

In the Mid North, Ag Ex Alliance is establishing a network of 40 weather stations across the Mid North, Clare Valley, northern Adelaide Plains and northern Yorke Peninsula to provide localised information to farmers to help make better decisions about when to spray and minimise spray drift.

We are urging anyone who is planning a spraying operation to exercise caution – we have online resources to help guide correct spraying operations. If you’re not sure, it’s your responsibility to find out.

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