PIRSA urges caution of drift during summer weed and fungal control

Producers are being reminded to consider their neighbours when planning spraying operations in coming weeks.

Executive director of biosecurity at the SA Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), Nathan Rhodes said heavy rains over parts of the state in recent weeks will lead to increased weed control activity.

“Producers, particularly those in northern and eastern agricultural and viticultural areas will place a priority on spraying operations in broad acre cropping and vineyards in an effort to control any emerging weeds and minimise potential fungal disease,” he said.

“With the amount of spraying likely to take place, diligence will be required when planning and applying sprays to ensure no spray drift occurs.

“Even with the implementation in recent years of new weather station technology through the Mesonet system in the Mid North, Mallee and Riverland along with larger droplet size requirements, chemical users nevertheless need to pay attention to the details of their activities.

“This includes ensuring that spray applications are performed strictly according to label requirements.

“It is also vital that not only is the right chemical is selected but also that weather conditions are closely monitored and appropriate for the proposed activity. Spraying should not occur under inversion weather conditions which generally exist from evening and overnight through until early morning.”

Mr Rhodes said that in the coming months the department will be closely monitoring spray operator activities including through chemical user audits, investigation of reported spray drift incidents and taking regulatory action when non-compliance is identified.

“Anyone found to have deliberately or negligently caused damage to other properties by not following the regulatory requirements for agricultural chemical use can receive a maximum penalty of $35,000 per offence,” he said.

“Such penalties reflect the seriousness of not following mandatory label instructions.”

Nick Hillier, chair of the Grain Producers SA (GPSA) R,D & E Committee, reminded producers to practice the industry endorsed Code of Practice for Summer Weed Control, and to report any spray drift events or spraying practices that could cause spray drift.

“Over the past few seasons GPSA has had an ongoing campaign encouraging growers to ‘Hit Your Target’,” he said.

“Off-target damage has been an increasing issue in viticultural and horticultural areas, with damage to vines during periods of summer weed control of particular concern.

“Growers have rallied to adhere to the Harvest Code of Practice and to not reap grain when the Grassland Fire Danger Index is above 35.

“GPSA is seeking a similar response from ‘Hit Your Target’ in which communities of growers work together to minimise the risk of spray drift.”


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