Local communities come together to tackle spray drift

20 February, 2018

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Reseller agronomists in Victoria have pulled together devise management options to overcome the widespread off-target spray drift that has caused devastation to numerous broadacre and horticulture crops this season.

A range of high value crops such as stonefruit, grapes, onions, tomatoes, soybeans and cotton, as well as some organic crops, have been severely negatively impacted by a number of inversion drift events around the Swan Hill, Kerang and Durham Ox regions this season. The extent of the damage has varied, with some crops displaying extensive physical damage while other impacts are only showing up when crops are tested for contamination. One grape grower found traces of Group I herbicide in his samples, which resulted in a price reduction and concerns that some of the product will breach the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) used to safeguard consumer health.

The wide-reaching damage has prompted a collective cross-industry response from agronomists, who have formed a steering committee to drive awareness and understanding of the implications of off-target spray drift. There is a collective need to ensure that Group I herbicide products are managed appropriately, as they are an important part of a grower’s “chemical toolbox”, the resistance management program. No grower or agronomist wants to see these products banned.

The group has taken the initiative to coordinate a number of workshops to help growers and applicators understand the correct techniques for herbicide application, as well as farm visits for growers, spray applicators and other industry representatives to inspect firsthand the impact of off-target spray drift. A number of follow-up meetings and training have also been planned for throughout the year, with a joint spray day to be conducted in October.

By Jorian Millyard, Extension & Development Agronomist – Southern NSW and Victoria.