Spray drift and CottonMap

Cotton Plants damaged by 2,4-D drift

If some of your cotton plants look like this, they may have been affected by spray drift from a Group I (e.g. Phenoxy) Herbicide. Young cotton is particularly susceptible, at a time when the use of phenoxy’s can increase for weed control in summer fallow programs. The problem is further exacerbated following summer rainfall that causes rapid weed germination and growth, needing timely control.

Cotton Australia's efforts

Each season, Cotton Australia runs a campaign to help protect Australia’s cotton crops from the effects of spray drift that includes educating users of Group I herbicides such as 2,4-D. The campaign is multi-faceted.

Click here to download information about this season's campaign

Cotton growers are encouraged to help overcome this problem by:  

  • Writing to neighbours to let them know your cotton plans for the season (there's a template letter to make this easier, see links below)
  • Mapping cotton fields at www.CottonMap.com.au so that neighbours can be made aware of susceptible cotton crops nearby 

Report any incident (or suspected incident) to Cotton Australia: 

It is critical that growers report any incident (or suspected incident) as soon as it occurs to your closest Cotton Australia Regional Manager and fill out a Cotton Australia Spray Drift Incident Report. It is critical that incidents are properly logged and investigated, and Cotton Australia has a straightforward process that is simple and confidential.   

Growers whose crops have been damaged by off-target spray drift should call the relevant authorities in their state to report it:

  • NSW: EPA Environment Line:  131 555
  • Qld:  Biosecurity Queensland:  13 25 23
  • Victoria:  Chemical Standards Officer: (03) 5430 4463, or email chemical.standards@ecodev.vic.gov.au

More About CottonMap 

CottonMap is a website where cotton fields are mapped on-line so that potential users of Group I products are alerted to the proximity of cotton fields to any area requiring weed control over summer. Each season, an average of 96% of the planted area is mapped since 2009/10. 

CottonMap is now accessible on smart phones and tablet devices, thanks to a joint effort between Cotton Australia, the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC), Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC) and Nufarm. There's also been some improvements made:

  • Mobile devices will be redirected to www.CottonMap.com.au/mobile, the smart-phone version of the site.
  • Field submission updates have been added to better inform users of the status of mapped fields.
  • A ‘news’ item area has been added to the home page that will host CottonMap updates.
  • An email system has been added that allows all users to receive email updates (opt-out option is available).
  • Last season’s fields will be in the accounts of registered users, so simply delete the non-cotton fields for this season (red X button) then add any new ones and resubmit at the bottom of the my-fields column.
  • We know CottonMap passwords are not top-of-mind! Just remember your user name is your email address and you can force a system email containing your password as you log back in. Look for the “Forgot Password?” link.
  • Current users with new email addresses are now able to change their user names if desired.
  • New users will be prompted to register after they submit a new field(s).

To find out more and to map your fields, go to www.CottonMap.com.au

Farmers should use this checklist when preparing to use Group I herbicides, such as 2,4-D:

  1. Know what to do
    • Read and follow label instructions – it is a legal requirement
    • Ensure spray applicators are fully trained and accredited
  2. Check the conditions before spraying
    • Monitor conditions before, during and after spraying
    • Do not spray when there is a surface temperature inversion – likely to occur between midnight and sunrise – or when wind speeds are very low
  3. Consider your neighbours
    • Check www.CottonMap.com.au for cotton fields that could be impacted by drift – spray droplets can travel further than 20km
    • Notify your neighbours of your spray plan
  4. Adjust your spray equipment
    • Select nozzles that produce coarse or large droplets and use them in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications 
    • Minimise boom height when spraying and slow down – high speeds significantly increase potential for drift 

Summer Weed Control Best Practice Guide

A new Summer Weed Control Best Practice Guide is now available for growers, employees, contractors and agronomists to provide guidelines for the safe and effective application of herbicides in summer. The guide provides advice on how to recognise a surface temperature and provides recommendations to minimise risk of spray drift by avoiding spraying under inversion or still conditions. Additionally, the guide provides advice on monitoring weather conditions and proper record keeping processes. 

Spray risk and inversions

It is important growers and spray applicators understand the risks around spray inversions, how they are formed, and how to avoid them. Nufarm has produced a handy document - the '24 Hour Risk Profile for Summer Spraying' - which can be downloaded and used for reference.