Pesticide application studies to shape future best practice

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 29 Jul 2013

Spraying (credit: Bill Gordon)

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) will invest $1 million per year over the next three years in pesticide application research and training.

The aim of this investment is to help the grains industry develop best practice spray systems that comply with pesticide product label and legal requirements.

GRDC Plant Health Technologies Manager, Dr Ken Young, says the GRDC is working through the National Working Party on Pesticide Application (NWPPA) to fund research on drift reduction technology.

“The research is investigating a range of spray application issues, including the best combination of nozzles, spray pressures and pesticide formulations to minimise drift and optimise efficacy,” Dr Young said.

He said results of the research would help inform the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority’s (APVMA) review of the impact of existing pesticides, being undertaken as part of new chemical use regulations.

“The GRDC is funding research on spray drift reduction technology because we want to ensure any new buffer zone requirements are based on the latest technology and, importantly, Australian conditions,” Dr Young said.

He said many leading Australian growers already practised excellent stewardship in terms of pesticide application.

“Through the NWPPA, we are aiming to document pesticide practices of Australian grain growers and compare these against best practice in Australia and internationally.

“This information will then be used to support and accelerate GRDC-funded spray application training already underway.”

Between July 2009 and June 2012, 176 GRDC-funded application and drift management workshops were delivered to more than 3500 growers, applicators, advisers and industry trainers.

These workshops led to more than 80 per cent of participants changing one or more spraying practices. More than 99 per cent said they would recommend the workshops to other growers and applicators.

Dr Young said the focus of the new training project would be to continue to raise awareness of spraying best practice and to increase the number of skilled people who can provide quality information and training to growers.

“The project will use the skills of some of the best people in the spraying industry.

“The training workshops are supported by GRDC-funded pesticide efficacy trials focused on improving spray application results and minimising off-target effects.”

With pesticides accounting for up to 30 per cent of the variable input costs of grain production, Dr Young said growers could save money and time by minimising drift and ensuring spray operations were effective.

To support growers in this regard, the GRDC has published a Ground Cover supplement covering current best practice guidelines for spray application success.

The publication includes information on nozzle type, droplet size and spray quality, tank mix formulations, adjuvant choice, water quality, weather conditions, sprayer set-up (boom height and speed), self-propelled sprayers and the latest sprayer technology and record-keeping requirements.

“Achieving the best outcome from spray application requires careful consideration of many factors,” Dr Young said.

“The aim is to transfer active ingredients through the atmosphere to the target in an effective manner with minimal off-target losses. To achieve this, application technique and sprayer set-up needs to be matched to the target and weather conditions.

“The supplement, which was distributed to growers with the July-August edition of Ground Cover magazine, outlines the principles that underpin successful spray operations.”

The Ground Cover spray application supplement is also available for viewing and downloading via


Caption: Achieving the best outcome from spray application requires careful consideration of many factors. Image courtesy Bill Gordon.

For Interviews

Ken Young, GRDC
(02) 6166 4500


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675100

GRDC Project Code BGC00002,UQ00060, MRE00001

Region South, North