Do not drift from spray guidelines

Do not drift from spray guidelines

Smart Farmer How To

The popular herbicide 2,4-D has caused friction in areas with both summer and winter crops with spray drift costing millions of dollars of damage.

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DO IT RIGHT: Spray Safe and Save accredited trainer Craig Day demonstrates nozzle output with Darren Hawkins looking on.

DO IT RIGHT: Spray Safe and Save accredited trainer Craig Day demonstrates nozzle output with Darren Hawkins looking on.

The popular herbicide 2,4-D that is commonly used to control summer weeds has recently caused friction in areas with both summer and winter crops.

Spray drift from farmers looking to control summer weeds in winter crop stubbles has been damaging to summer crops at a key stage in their development.

Between 2016 and 2018, there has been high levels of crop damage in cotton and grape growing regions throughout Australia from 2,4-D drift.

These drift events are still occurring despite the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) making the decision to suspend all approvals for 2,4-D high volatile ester (HVE) formulations in 2013.

As cotton and other broad-leaf crop plantings have spread throughout NSW, broadacre farmers are being challenged to manage the use and spray application processes of 2,4-D.

In recent years, cotton producers have petitioned for tighter regulations on 2,4-D products.

This came after a series of drift incidents caused millions of dollars of damage.

In October 2018, the APVMA suspended all 2,4-D labels on approximately 220 registered products.

They released new label instructions under permit PER87174.

This permit was designed to reduce spray drift occurrences and damage to sensitive off target crops for the 2018-19 summer spray season.

The permit instructs users to change their application techniques by applying 2,4-D herbicides with a nozzle that produces at least very coarse spray droplets.

This attempts to minimise the impact of spray drift from these products.

It also states that users of 2,4-D herbicides must make an accurate written record of the details of each spray application.

This must be completed within 24 hours following the application and this record must be kept for a minimum of two years.

The permit does not change or restrict other aspects of the currently approved use patterns and should not affect product availability.

The new instructions include:

  • a requirement not to spray in inversion conditions and additional information to help recognise these surface temperature inversion conditions;
  • buffer zones for both aquatic and terrestrial off target vegetation including sensitive crops, gardens, landscaping vegetation, protected native vegetation or protected animal habitat;
  • boom height is restricted to a maximum of 50cm from the top of the crop canopy or weeds in a fallow situation; and
  • APVMA also advise growers to increase droplet size over summer (October 1 to April 15) to extremely coarse or ultra-coarse and reduce application speed to allow operators to lower boom heights. This however is not a mandatory requirement.

Another change to legislation around agricultural chemicals involves spray contractors in NSW.

From July 2017 it became mandatory for contract ground rig spray operators to be licenced through NSW EPA.

For contractors, the requirement is to hold a current competency of the two Level III units AHCCHM303 Prepare and apply chemicals, and AHCCHM304 Transport and Store chemicals (or their equivalent).

The licence is not for the business but for each person that applies chemicals for a fee or reward.

Farmers who make use of the services of a contractor must ensure that the person applying the chemical on their property holds current licencing.

To address the new legislation and the needs of farmers NSW Department of Primary Industries, through Tocal College, is delivering accredited training across NSW at a range of levels.

The Advanced Chemical Spray Application Training is being delivered in partnership with Spray Safe and Save by accredited trainer Craig Day.

Funding for the Advanced Chemical Spray Application Training course is available through AgSkilled which is a training strategy partnership between the Cotton and Grains industries and the NSW government.

The Advanced Chemical Spray Application training consists of both a one day workshop and a workplace visit.

Tocal College also offer SMARTtrain chemical training courses throughout NSW at Level III Chemical Application and Level IV Chemical Risk Management.

Both of these courses are also available as an online option.

These training courses will increase the skills level of those involved in chemical application and address issues and provide strategies to help decrease or stop spray drift events in the future.

  • For more information on Tocal College chemical training courses contact Robyn Troldahl on 0438 304 291 or email:
  • Visit:

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