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16/12/2015

Biosecurity Queensland warns spray drift can cause damage and cost you money

It is important when spraying agricultural chemicals that users follow label instructions to minimise the risk of chemical sprays drifting and damaging sensitive crops or affecting human health.

Chris Inwood, Senior Crop Protection Officer for Biosecurity Queensland, said that talking to neighbours, consultants and contractors before spraying commences is imperative.

“If farmers and contractors talk to their neighbours before they commit to a spray program they can find out if there are chemically sensitive crops in the area,” Inwood said. “If there are sensitive crops nearby, then an alternative chemical should be chosen, one that is less likely to cause damage should spray drift occur.”

Weather conditions, droplet size, application method and the experience of the applicator all affects how much spray drift may occur. Particular weather conditions to avoid when spraying agricultural chemicals include windy days or when there is a risk of thermal inversion.

“Due to recent weather patterns we currently have a large planting of summer crops in parts of southern Queensland. This has led to an increased risk of spray drift damage occurring,” he said.

Thermal inversions occur when a layer of warm air settles over a layer of cooler air that lies near the ground. Spraying crops during an inversion could result in a concentrated layer of fine chemical droplets remaining airborne and then drifting from the site of application.  

“Weather conditions should be monitored before, during and after any application. The best time to spray is when there is a light, steady wind and moderate temperatures,” Inwood said. “In Queensland, the maximum penalty for the misuse of agricultural chemicals, such as the failure to follow label instructions, is currently over $70,000.

“It is the user’s responsibility to ensure they are following label instructions, have appropriate and well maintained equipment, spray only in appropriate weather conditions and communicate well with neighbours.

“It also makes good business sense to prevent agricultural chemicals from drifting from the site of application, so you can get the full benefit of the application,” Inwood said.

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