Attention to detail can help prevent spray drift risk

Author: Natalie Lee | Date: 24 May 2016

Portrait of Chris Wilkins

GRDC Western Regional Panel member and adviser Chris Wilkins encourages growers to access up-to-date GRDC resources to help them achieve good spray coverage without creating a spray drift risk.

Paying close attention to spray conditions and application methods will enable grain growers to achieve good spray coverage this season without creating a spray drift risk.

This is the message from Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Western Regional Panel member Chris Wilkins, who is an agronomic and agribusiness adviser based at Badgingarra.

“This is a time of year when growers are pushing hard and getting a lot done, and it is also the peak season for spray drift risk,” he said.

“Spray drift is not about specific products; it’s about spray conditions and application, and providing people can keep an eye on those two factors, they can do the job safely.”

Mr Wilkins said the key condition that spray operators should be particularly aware of was a temperature inversion, which could cause pesticide application to be sub-optimal and spray to drift from the application site to sensitive crops.

A temperature inversion is when the air at ground level becomes cooler than higher air.

“Temperature inversions commonly occur at this time of the year when we are having warm sunny days and cool nights, and will often form in the morning and around sunset,” he said.

“A key give-away is when there is dust or mist hanging in the air and gently moving sideways – that’s a real risk sign and that’s the situation where you should not be spraying.”

Mr Wilkins said spray guidelines, including the recommended spray droplet size, were outlined on chemical labels and there was a wealth of GRDC material available here to help growers with their strategies to manage spray drift and improve spray coverage.

“These resources include a new Ground Cover Supplement on spray application, detailing research into new pesticide-application technology, as well as some of the spraying tools and techniques developed through GRDC investments,” he said.

“The supplement is available here and was contained in the May-June edition of the GRDC magazine Ground Cover, which has been mailed to growers.

“It includes practical information – backed by science – on spraying speed; drift-reducing techniques; the effects of adjuvant and nozzle type on drift potential; new tools for determining sprayer outputs; tips for assessing spray coverage in the field; and surface temperature inversion research.”

GRDC General Manager Crop Protection Ken Young said the GRDC had invested more than $3 million over the past three years on research and training workshops to promote improved application techniques and drift management strategies, as well as providing some of the scientific data required to allow for more flexible spray drift restraints on product labels.

“The GRDC remains focused on providing growers and operators with the tools required to continually improve their spraying practices and minimise the risks associated with spray drift,” he said.

Contact Details

For Interviews

Chris Wilkins, GRDC western panellist
0427 940 925

Ken Young, GRDC
02 6166 4500


Natalie Lee, Cox Inall Communications
08 9864 2034, 0427 189 827

GRDC Project Code BGC00003, UQ00072, UQ00047, UQ00060, UWA00165

Region West