Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Beware the damage from spray drift this summer

Media release: 15 November 2016

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is reminding landholders and contractors to use herbicides responsibly this summer in an effort to avoid spray drift which can damage the surrounding environment and cost local farmers thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

The reminder comes as EPA officers commence a compliance campaign targeting registered pesticide users in the New England and North West regions throughout the summer.

EPA Regional Director North Branch, Adam Gilligan said the EPA will be checking spray records, and the qualifications of all registered users to ensure they understand the rules and are using products safely. 

“Our message to users is a simple one – read product labels carefully, monitor local weather conditions and communicate with your surrounding neighbours ahead of time to avoid spray drift incidents.”

“We’ll also be reminding users not to spray when it’s hot, or windy or during a temperature inversion which are most common early in the morning, in the evening and throughout the night. We will also be checking that they’re using the right equipment and reminding them not travel too fast while spraying.” 

“Herbicides are an important part of agriculture, but the misuse or mishandling of these chemicals can pose a danger to the community and impact on the surrounding environment, including damaging native vegetation and non-target crops, such as cotton, grapes and tomatoes,” Mr Gilligan said

Group I herbicides such as Arylpicolinate, Benzoic Acid, Phenoxy, Pyridine and Quinoline carboxylic acid contain volatile chemicals that when sprayed under the wrong weather can drift considerable distances and affect any sensitive crops in its path. 

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 1999.

Under the Pesticides Act and Pesticides Regulation landholders are required to:

  • Check the product label carefully before spraying
  • Comply with the directions for use on the label
  • Keep accurate records
  • Check weather conditions before spraying.
  • Have appropriate training in the use and handling of pesticides and herbicides

The EPA investigates reported herbicide misuse and failing to meet any of the above requirements can result in regulatory action.

Anyone with a concern, or knowledge of a spray drift incident or pesticide misuse in their local area, should contact the Environment Line on 131 555. 

Top tips to avoid spray drift 

  1. Don’t spray when it’s hot.
  2. Don’t spray when it’s too windy –wind speeds between 3-15km/s are ideal.
  3. If possible, avoid spraying at dawn, dusk or during the night when temperature inversions are more common.
  4. Have the right equipment – nozzles that produce larger spray droplets are best because spray is less likely to drift.
  5. Don’t drive too fast – it increases wind speed
  6. Minimise boom height to reduce the distance between spray nozzles and the target crop.

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 15 November 2016