Spray drift: best practice guidelines, how to report damage and Cotton Australia’s efforts

Tuesday, 12th January 2016 // Cotton Matters, Featured // Comments (0)

Following reports of spray drift damage in each cotton production valley, Cotton Australia is encouraging all growers to follow best practice guides. Affected growers are encouraged to lodge an adverse incident report with the authorities following damage, to assist with Cotton Australia’s awareness and prevention efforts. With many crops flowering (boll filling in the north), Cotton Australia’s annual spray drift awareness campaign is in full swing.

National cotton crop threatened by off-target spray drift

Off-target spray drift incidents have swept across Australia's cotton industry, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage and threatening farm businesses. Cotton Australia CEO, Adam Kay, says at least 60,000ha of cotton has been damaged already this season, which represents more than 20% of the entire crop
Read Cotton Australia's full report here. 

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. 


What to do if impacted by spray drift

While Cotton Australia works hard each year with a campaign to reduce incidences of spray drift, it is critical for growers to report damage to the authorities when it occurs.

Three easy steps to report damage:

1. Contact your nearest Cotton Australia Regional Manager

2.  Contact the federal regulator, APVMA:

3. Contact your state regulator:

Why is it important to report damage?

  • Regulators cannot investigate damage or take action unless they are aware of the problem by way of a report from the impacted grower.
  • Documented reports can assist Cotton Australia’s ongoing efforts to protect cotton growers from damage. Data from reports strengthens Cotton Australia’s policy and communications plan, and Cotton Australia's position when discussing potential label changes and reform with regulators.
  • In severe cases, insurance companies may require a report.

Cotton Australia's efforts

Cotton Australia runs an annual campaign to help protect Australia’s cotton crops from this problem that includes educating users of phenoxy herbicide products. The campaign is multi-faceted, and key components include:

  • CottonMap awareness and support: Cotton Australia leads the promotion of CottonMap and supports users with mapping fields.
  • Media campaign: Press releases distributed at multiple points throughout the season in every cotton production area.
  • Radio ads: 1400 radio ads targeting all farmers in cotton production areas, warning of spray drift risks and providing best practice tips.
  • Resellers and agronomists: Cotton Australia’s Regional Managers have visited more than 110 resellers and chemical distributors to provide point-of-sale posters and spray drift reminders.
  • Workshops: A spray drift management workshop was held on the Darling Downs in December 2015 and at Warren in January 2016. Cotton Australia is currently investigating potential for additional regional workshops.
  • Briefing regulators: Cotton Australia liaises with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to log adverse spray drift incidents. Cotton Australia also liaises with state regulators on communications/media activities, audits and investigations: Biosecurity Queensland and NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
  • Cotton Australia collaborates with other industries (including the grains and pulses sectors) to prevent spray drift occurrences and raise awareness of best practice.

To download more details about Cotton Australia’s 2015-16 spray drift campaign, click here.