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Friday, February 23, 2024

Aussie cotton farmers told to remain vigilant of spray drift incidents

Cotton Australia, a trade body of the Australian cotton industry has urged cotton farmers to remain vigilant and take appropriate action to avoid a repeat of last year’s devastating spray drift incidents.

The 2022-23 season saw one of the worst years on record for spray drift with some farmers suffering millions of dollars’ worth of lost production.

Last year in the McIntyre and Balonne regions alone, producers lost tens of millions in production due to spray drift.

Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay said last year’s impact was widespread with farmers reporting moderate to severe spray drift incidents in several regions.

The potential for another major spray drift season depends on numerous factors including the practices of farmers and contractors applying chemicals and the conditions prevalent at the time of application.

There is the potential for greater damage if spraying occurs under ‘hazardous inversion’ conditions when cold air is trapped near the ground and spray droplets can remain suspended in the air for hours and can travel many kilometers beyond the intended target.

Past spray drift events have indicated that some people are not applying in accordance with approved label instructions, or that the label instructions for some products may need review.

Last year Cotton Australia joined forces with other agricultural groups, the Australian Government, and enforcement agencies to highlight best practices and warn about the implications of non-compliance.

The NSW EPA’s Executive Director Regulatory Practice & Services Steve Beaman said they won’t hesitate to take action against anyone who is spraying pesticides irresponsibly or deliberately causing harm.

Cotton Australia is launching an education and advertising campaign, utilizing all available communication channels, to raise the issue and urge everyone to do the right thing.

The EPA has also launched a similar campaign hoping that with increased education and compliance, the upcoming season will be a better one.

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