EMERALD Grain managing director David Johnson urged growers to ensure they were compliant with grain storage chemical maximum residue limits (MRLs) when delivering grain to port terminals.
Mr Johnson said Emerald had been forced to issue a safety alert after several loads delivered to its Melbourne port had high readings for the grain protectant phosphine.
“It is just a matter of trying to get growers educated about best practice with grain storage,” Mr Johnson said.
He said Emerald had a threshold limit of three parts per million of phosphine to help protect staff unloading the trucks.
This is well in excess of the international accepted Codex standard of one part per million.
Should a load have a higher than acceptable level of phosphine, the transporter will be issued with a rejection notice and given a certain amount of time to wait before getting the load retested.
Mr Johnson said he did not necessarily think the string of high readings were a result of poor grain hygiene management, such as ‘bombing’ truckloads with phosphine just prior to bringing the grain to port.
“There are a lot of things that are emerging in terms of on-farm storage, such as grain bags and how phosphine behaves in them, where the grain is packed in tight,” he said.
“Perhaps the grain does not get sufficient air flow when treated then, it might be a matter of waiting a couple of days more.”
“We don’t know exactly what has caused the increase in deliveries with excessive phosphine readings, but we are just urging growers to be thinking of MRLs for grain protectants and to adhere to best practice when outloading grain ready for delivery.”
Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann said it was something his organisation was aware of and was trying to research further.
He said both farmers and the grain trade were working towards better grain storage through the National Working Party for Grain Protection.
Mr Weidemann agreed there were issues that needed to be understood better.
“I think we are getting the message across in terms of off-label applications of phosphine and how harmful they can be, but we are running into problems where people have done everything right and are still getting high readings, so that is something we are looking at.”
“It’s important to note it is not just growers struggling with the correct use of grain protectants, it is something for the industry as a whole to look at.”
The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is also working on the issue of grain storage.
Consultant Chris Warrick, who heads up the GRDC Grain Storage Extension Project, said a new Grain Storage Grow Note had been issued.
“It is a comprehensive digital resource that aims to provide relevant information, links to other resources and contacts to enable a base understanding of how to manage on-farm storage successfully,” he said.
He said the critical component of storing grain successfully was knowledge of best-practice management to avoid problems, such as insect contamination or on the other side trace levels of grain protectants above prescribed MRLs.
Phosphine is by far and away Australia’s most important grain protection product, stopping insect infestations in stored grain.
The story Port operator reports more high phosphine readings first appeared on Farm Online.