Get the drift: reminder on chemical use

Get the drift? Timely reminder about chemical use


Horticulture
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Farmers in the north-west have been reminded of the risks of chemical spray drift, in a series of workshops across the region.

Farmers in the north-west have been reminded of the risks of chemical spray drift, in a series of workshops across the region.

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NuFarm spray application specialist Bill Gordon said he held three workshops, in Barooga, Swan Hill and Horsham, to remind both crop producers and horticulturalists of ways of reducing the risk of spray drift, especially over summer.

RISK PROFILE: Farmers have been issued with this risk profile, to help them avoid spray drift and causing damage to neighbouring crops.

RISK PROFILE: Farmers have been issued with this risk profile, to help them avoid spray drift and causing damage to neighbouring crops.

“People need to be extra careful, when spraying summer weeds,” Mr Gordon said.

“We have been running some workshops, just to remind people of ways of reducing risk, where there are sensitive crops around.

He said there had been some issues with spray drift, affecting horticultural crops in the Swan Hill area, “so it was rather timely, for a lot of people.”

“Certainly, in other areas, things like capsicums and grapes have been damaged.”

The workshops focussed on what farmers could, and couldn’t do, and advised of the higher risk of drift, when spraying at night.

“Five times as much chemical can stay in the air, compared with spraying during the day,” Mr Gordon said.

“If they are going to spray at night, you need to move to a coarser nozzle.”

Farmers also needed to be aware of wind direction and speed and, at night, aiming to “take as much chemical out of the air and put it on the ground.”

Carwarp cereal grower Rowan Nulty said he had not heard of any spray drift damage in the area in the last decade.

“I have blocks of vines that are close enough that I have to be really, really careful,” Mr Nulty said.

He said there was always a concern about land use changes.

‘It’s always a worry if someone plonks something right next to you, especially if the wind direction is from the north or west, you are nearly dead in the water.

‘You can’t spray, four days out of five.”

But Werrimull cereal and pulse grower Ron Hards, said it didn’t matter what crops were grown in the area, it was the individual farmers responsibility to make sure spray drift didn’t occur.

“It’s just a fact of life, there is so much diversity in cropping country now, we have to lift our game as far as drift goes.”

He conceded it was frustrating, if cereal and pulse producers hadn’t had to consider impacts on horticultural crops before.

“But there are some fairly simple measures you need to take to make sure chemical spray doesn’t drift onto neighbouring properties,” Mr Hards said.

His property was 90 kilometres from Mildura, but there were grapevines within 15km, “as the crow flies.

“There are chemicals, we use on a day to day basis, that will drift and can do damage, so you just have to be careful.”

“You’ve just got to be aware of the weather conditions and be up to date with the rules.”

Mr Hards said the onus was also on grape growers.

‘Horticulture can use some pretty nasty stuff, which can affect our crops as well, so it goes both ways.

“The onus is on the user - it doesn’t matter who it is.”

SPRAY ADVICE: Bill Gordon, NuFarm spray application specialist Bill Gordon, has run a series of workshops in northern and western Victoria, advising crop and horticultural producers on ways of reducing chemical spray drift.

SPRAY ADVICE: Bill Gordon, NuFarm spray application specialist Bill Gordon, has run a series of workshops in northern and western Victoria, advising crop and horticultural producers on ways of reducing chemical spray drift.

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