Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

EPA reminds landholders about herbicide drift

Media release: 10 December 2015

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is reminding landholders about the risk of herbicide drift, especially when spraying phenoxyl based herbicides, during hot and windy weather.

EPA North Director, Gary Davey, said pesticide products containing phenoxyl such as 2,4-D can cause extensive damage to non-target crops, including cotton, grapes, tomatoes, oilseed and ornamentals. Spray drift can also cause considerable environmental damage to native vegetation, waterways and wildlife.

“Herbicides are an important part of agriculture, however, the misuse or mishandling of these chemicals can pose a danger to the community, environment and impact on agricultural enterprises”, said Mr Davey.

 “Landholders should carefully check the weather conditions prior to and during spraying and should be aware of their responsibilities when using herbicides. Some chemicals can be highly volatile in certain weather conditions and tiny spray drops can draft over large distances.”

The EPA regulates the use of pesticides in NSW, including those used in agriculture, on public land and in commercial and domestic premises through the provisions of the Pesticides Act.

Pesticides must be registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). The APVMA determines the purpose for which chemicals may be used and how those chemicals may be used.

This information is included on the label of the pesticide container. It is an offence to not use a pesticide in accordance with the label requirements. Anyone using herbicides should read the container labels carefully and it is a legal requirement to follow all directions.

The Pesticides Act requires persons using pesticides for commercial or agricultural purposes to maintain records. The EPA checks the records of landowners using herbicides, including chemical applications and training records. Records must be kept to demonstrate that the herbicides were used in accordance with label requirements. These records can provide vital information if problems occur.

“In addition to following instructions and keeping records, the EPA recommends that landholders should follow online guides and decision-making tools, use weather stations to confirm local conditions and use a GPS to log their operations.

“The EPA has a range of regulatory tools available in response to herbicide or pesticide misuse including formal warnings, penalty notices and, for serious cases, prosecution for those who don’t do the right thing”.

“Earlier this year, the NSW Government granted the EPA new powers under the Pesticides Act that include the authority to prosecute for damage caused to neighbouring properties’ crops by the improper use of pesticides and herbicides.”

The EPA encourages the reporting of alleged herbicide and pesticide misuse to the EPA Environment Line on ph: 131 555. Anyone making a report should describe what they see, smell or hear and note the time and weather conditions, if possible. These details will assist with any investigations. It is also critical that any incidents are reported to the Environment Line as soon as possible so the EPA can commence its investigations promptly.

Further information on the use of pesticides and avoiding spray drift is available at
The Grains Research and Development Corporation’s, “Weather essentials for pesticide application”,
Cotton Australia has a map on its website showing this season’s cotton crops, to help neighbours identify potential risks. Factsheets to help people avoid spray drift are also available.
Many plants are highly sensitive to phenoxyl herbicides and, as a result, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority has cancelled the supply of high volatile (HV) 2,4-D esters.





Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 10 December 2015