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Environment Protection Authority

Watch your spray drift - warns the EPA

Media release: 14 February 2017

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is currently conducting a compliance campaign targeting pesticide users in the New England and North West regions, following reports of spray drift damage to crops in the region.

EPA Manager Regional Operations North Branch, Lindsay Fulloon said EPA officers will be checking spray records and accreditation of pesticide users to ensure they understand the rules and are using products safely.

“Following rain events in late January, there is likely to be an increase in spraying of fallow areas,” Mr Fulloon said.

“There are some simple things that spray contractors and landholders across the state need to know and do to reduce the risks and potential impact of spray drift, including the need to remain vigilant about weather conditions when they go to spray.

“The misuse or mishandling of pesticides can pose a danger to the community, environment and impact on non-target crops, including cotton crops, which can very easily be avoided.”

The EPA encourages anyone with a concern, or knowledge of a spray drift incident or pesticide misuse in their local area, to contact the Environment Line on 131 555.

Top tips for avoiding spray drift

  • Do not spray Group I herbicides from midnight until just after sunrise – this is when inversion conditions pose the greatest risk.
  • Don’t spray in very low winds or very high winds – during the day, wind speeds between 3-15 km/hr are ideal.
  • Minimise boom height to reduce the risk of spray drift.
  • Have the right equipment – use nozzles that produce coarse or larger spray droplets.
  • Don’t drive too fast – it increases the potential for spray drift.
  • Follow label directions - including instructions that define the weather conditions that spraying can be carried out.
  • Learn to identify a surface temperature inversion - which commonly occurs from late afternoon until after sunrise, and avoid spraying when it is present to prevent spray drift. During a temperature inversion the direction and distance that pesticides can move in the air is very hard to predict.
  • Check for nearby sensitive crops

Group I herbicides can drift considerable distances when applied under the wrong weather conditions. Anyone applying Group I herbicides needs to take extra care to avoid inversion conditions.

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.

Contact: Public Affairs

Page last updated: 14 February 2017