A cotton group has called an emergency meeting for today for northern NSW growers after more than 10 farms showed signs of off-target spray drift damage in the lead-up to Christmas Day.
A spokesman said it looked like more than 5000ha had been affected and, while the damage was varied, some growers feared they would lose their whole crop.
The Walgett Cotton Growers’ Association will host a meeting to cover the impact of the drift, and agronomic strategies to recover damaged cotton crops.
The news comes just days after the Environmental Protection Authority issued a warning to landholders and contractors to take every precaution to avoid spray drift this summer.
Growers’ association vice-chairman Bernie Bierhoff the affected farms were in a region bounded by Burren Junction, Rowena and Walgett.
“Spray drift damage is a terrible blow for the affected cotton growers, who are already struggling with limited access to water for irrigation this season,” Mr Bierhoff said.
“While it is still early days, the information we have to date suggests more than 5000 hectares of cotton has been affected by off-target spray drift in the days leading up to December 25.
“Although the drift has caused varying degrees of severity, some growers believe they are facing complete crop loss, which would simply be devastating for them.”
Cotton Australia northern NSW manager Paul Sloman said the affected crop area could turn out to be higher once all growers in the district had had the chance to inspect their fields and tally up the damage.
“We are encouraging growers to inspect their fields and report any damage to the relevant regulatory authorities,” Mr Sloman said.
“In NSW, reports should be made to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) hotline on 131 555.”
Representatives from Cotton Australia, the NSW Department of Primary Industries and other organisations have inspected damaged cotton ahead of the meeting.
- The meeting will be held at 6pm today – Thursday – at Walgett Sporting Club.