Planning to spray this summer - the EPA will be keeping a close watch.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is reminding landholders and contractors to use herbicides responsibly this summer to avoid spray drift which can damage the environment and cost local farmers thousands of dollars.

EPA Regional Director for North Branch Adam Gilligan said landholders and contractors should know their responsibilities when using pesticides, so “there is no excuse for misuse”.

“To help combat the problem the EPA conducted a region wide education and compliance campaign last summer to check that pesticide users were following the requirements,” Mr Gilligan said.

“Sixty-one notices were sent to landholders and contractors in the region requesting information and records as part of the campaign.

“This allowed the EPA to check that pesticide users were appropriately qualified, keeping adequate spray records, using the appropriate spray equipment and spraying responsibly,” he said.

As a result of the campaign the EPA issued a number of advisory and warning letters and seven official cautions. 

The most common non-compliances involved users not making or maintaining adequate spray records and not holding valid qualifications, or failing to provide copies of these qualifications.

Some pesticide users were also found to have breached label conditions and sprayed in poor weather conditions. 

Mr Gilligan said herbicides are an important part of agriculture, but the misuse of these chemicals can pose a danger to the community and impact on the environment, including damaging native vegetation and non-target crops, such as cotton, olives, grapes and tomatoes.

“The EPA investigates all reports of potential pollution and encourages anyone with a concern, or knowledge of a spray drift incident or pesticide misuse in their local area, to contact the 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.”   

Top tips for avoiding spray drift 

  • Don’t spray when it’s hot.
  • Don’t spray when it’s too windy – wind speeds between 3-15km/s are ideal.
  • If possible, avoid spraying at dawn, dusk or during the night when temperature inversions are more common.
  • Have the right equipment – nozzles that produce larger spray droplets are best because spray is less likely to drift.
  • Don’t drive too fast – it increases wind speed
  • Minimise boom height to reduce the distance between spray nozzles and the target crop.
  • Don’t spray in high temperature and low humidity conditions (known as Delta T conditions). These conditions increase the risk of spray droplet evaporation and spray drift.

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