With rainfall forecast for most of Australia’s cotton growing regions over the coming days and weeks, the cotton industry urges all farmers to take action to prevent off-target spray drift.
Cotton is particularly susceptible to damage from Group I herbicides, such as 2,4-D, and the risk is heightened following rainfall. At least 60,000 hectares of cotton was damaged last season, affecting more than 20% of the nation’s cotton crop.
Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay says that while widespread damage to cotton has been avoided to date this season, we encourage all farmers to use best practice guides and tools to prevent damage to neighbouring farms from off-target spray drift.
“Expected rainfall brings with it the added risk of off-target spray drift from crop and fallow spraying, especially with the record grain harvest wrapping up,” Mr Kay says.
“There is a significant amount of cotton in the ground already this season, and we expect that more than 500,000 hectares will be under production. Cotton is also being planted in some areas where it hasn’t been grown before, or at least not for a few seasons, because of good conditions.”
“Cotton growers understand that weed control is important, but so is respecting your neighbours and their ability to earn an income from the land.”
“All spray applicators should adhere to label requirements, check the conditions and – if unsure – they should seek additional advice before spraying. Look out for surface temperature inversions that may cause spray drift, particularly from sunset to after sunrise.”
“It is also important for all spray applicators to check CottonMap online before undertaking crop protection activities.”
“The vast majority of Australian cotton growers map their fields using CottonMap and more than 450,000 hectares has been mapped to date this season. We also remind cotton growers, farm managers, consultants, agronomists and contractors to input their cotton fields into CottonMap and help protect their crop.”
Mr Kay says farmers should use this four-point checklist when preparing to spray, particularly 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 – strongest 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
When using insecticides, farmers are encouraged to check the BeeConnected website – www.BeeConnected.org.au – made available by CropLife Australia to connect with registered beekeepers, enabling two-way communication on the location of hives and crop protection product activities.
More information on spray drift is available at the following sites:
- CottonMap website: www.cottonmap.com.au
- Cotton Australia website: www.cottonaustralia.com.au
- Spraywise Decisions website: www.spraywisedecisions.com.au
- CropLife Australia best practice reference guide: www.croplife.org.au
- Grains Research and Development Corporation website: www.grdc.com.au
CottonMap is a collaboration between Cotton Australia, Nufarm Australia Limited, the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
Cotton Australia is the peak representative body for Australia’s cotton growing industry.
Cotton Australia media contacts:
CEO, Cotton Australia
0437 695 222