Industries unite over spray drift crop threat

Industries unite over spray drift threat

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Deadly drift: Spray drift incidents were reported across Australia's cotton industry from December to early January.

Deadly drift: Spray drift incidents were reported across Australia's cotton industry from December to early January.

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Cotton and grains industry leaders have teamed up to combat spray drift after a spate of recent incidents in which cotton crops were damaged on the Darling Downs.

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Leaders from Australia’s grains and cotton industries have called on growers in both sectors to apply common sense when spraying, following significant damage to the national cotton crop from off-target spray drift.

Spray drift incidents were reported across Australia's cotton industry from December to early January, and are estimated to have caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. In the vast majority of incidents, the damage was caused by Phenoxy (2,4-D-type) spray that travelled during temperature inversions – in some instances, moving tens of kilometres from the intended target fields.

“Even small amounts of herbicide can affect cotton crops which are currently flowering,” Cotton Australia General Manager Michael Murray said.

“Unfortunately, environmental conditions over December-January have combined to produce a 'perfect storm' for off-target spray drift damage.

“Heavier-than-usual seasonal rainfall has also encouraged weed growth which, in turn, led to more spraying by farmers and applicators, and this has combined with temperature inversions to produce substantial off-target spray drift.”

GrainGrowers’ Chair, and Narrabri grain and cotton farmer, Andrew Carberry said reducing the risk of off-target spray was all about using common sense.

“Like many northern NSW farmers, our family produces both crops and I understand the balancing act between spraying summer weeds and protecting cotton crops,” Mr Carberry said.

"Reading chemical label instructions, using buffer zones, and habitually checking wind speeds and directions and using tools such as SprayWise are all good practice.”

“It’s just all about being mindful of our neighbours and remembering that our actions, if careless, can have dire consequences for our fellow croppers.”

SprayWise Decisions, developed by GrainGrowers and sponsored by Nufarm, allows farmers to review weather conditions for the last 14 days and predict weather patterns up to 14 days in advance. Growers can locate their property using GPS co-ordinates, physical address search or find their property using Google Maps satellite imagery. Data is updated every 12 hours and can be viewed in-field on the Spraywise web-based mobile phone app.

Mr Murray urged cotton growers to report any damage suspected to have been caused by off-target spray drift.

“Without reports of spray drift incidents, it is almost impossible for state or federal regulators to take further action, and so we urge everyone to file a report as soon as spray drift damage is observed,” Mr Murray said.

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