GRDC working with industry on spray drift regulations

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New label instructions and regulations will be the outcome of a current review by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) of pesticide applications and spray drift management.

GRDC crop protection manager Dr Rohan Rainbow says the GRDC is having input into this review through the National Working Party on Pesticide Application (NWPPA), which was set up to assist growers to understand and implement any changes and to work with the APVMA to provide realistic and practical risk management.

“NWPPA is currently scoping the research required to respond to the APVMA’s spray drift operating principles and has endorsed a number of new interim initiatives funded by the GRDC,” Dr Rainbow says. One of these initial projects, which involved a $100,000 investment by the GRDC, is the development of an interim model for buffer zone reduction in pesticide applications from ground sprayers.

The findings from this research were submitted to the APVMA last year and are under consideration by the regulator.

Under the APVMA regulations, proposed label instructions for new and existing chemicals – including phenoxy herbicides such as 2,4-D and MCPA – may potentially contain mandatory, ground-applied no-spray (buffer) zones downwind of up to 300 metres.

Speaking at GRDC Adviser Updates in the southern region, independent chairman of the NWPPA Gavan Cattanach, a consultant with John Thorp Australia, said the working party’s aim was to work with the APVMA to coordinate research leading to realistic and practical application of the regulations.

“The second aim of the NWPPA is to help farmers understand and implement the new spray operating principles,” Mr Cattanach said. “To do this, we are working closely with the APVMA and farmer organisations.

“Research coordinated by the NWPPA aims to provide the APVMA with evidence of newer drift-reduction technologies (DRTs) that reduce the risk of spray drift, and to demonstrate that leading growers are using the technologies and demonstrating good stewardship.

“The GRDC will invest an additional $900,000, with co-funding coming from other agencies, to conduct further research, including the development of tools and models to assist in reducing spray drift.”

Mr Cattanach said that while the NWPPA was initiating research that could reduce the severity of the new regulations, it was just as important that the Australian agricultural industry enhanced its training systems to ensure farmers and spray operators used pesticides in accordance with label instructions.

GRDC Southern Panel chair David Shannon agreed that every effort must be made to minimise the risk of spray drift. “With the use of chemical spray comes the onus and responsibility to do the right thing,” Mr Shannon said.

“The grains industry shares the landscape with many other agricultural, horticultural and viticultural industries so it is imperative that our farming practices do not impact on our neighbours, and vice versa.”

GRDC Research Code UQ00047
More information:

GRDC Project Code UQ00047

Region National