COLEAMBALLY cotton grower John Durham has warned fellow growers and other farmers to be vigilant against the threat of off-target spray drift, after his cotton crop was damaged recently.
Mr Durham, farm manager for Tubbo Irrigation near Coleambally, says all 970 hectares of cotton was damaged by off-target spraying, likely to be Phenoxy herbicide, just before Christmas.
He said the damage occurred despite the industry’s annual campaign to warn cotton growers and other farmers of the dangers of spray drift.
“Every year the industry communicates with all farmers about the dangers of off-target spray drift, but unfortunately these incidences still occur and this year it happened on Tubbo,” Mr Durham said.
“The weather does play a significant part in increasing the risks of spray drift, but it is the duty of every farmer and spray contractor to understand the weather and establish the best times to spray and the right techniques to use to avoid damaging their own land or their neighbours’ crop.”
“All farmers should understand the risks and, out of respect for their neighbours and their livelihood from the land, do everything they can to prevent off-target spray drift.”
Cotton Australia general manager, Michael Murray, said rain over the past month in many cotton-growing regions in Queensland and NSW meant there had been an increase in the reports of damage to cotton crops from spray drift.
"Cotton Australia is working to assist those growers whose crops have been severely impacted by off-target spray drift," Mr Murray said. "It is unfortunate that these events must serve as a timely reminder to the potential dangers of spraying, and the responsibilities of all farmers to look after their neighbours during the season."
Mr Murray said all farmers who spray fields must be vigilant against the effects of drift, particularly when using Phenoxy 2,4-D or MCPA herbicides. “Cotton farmers understand that weed control is important, but so is respecting your neighbours and their ability to earn an income from the land,” Mr Murray said. “The correct directions for use of Phenoxy herbicide are clearly labelled on the products, and it is a legal requirement to follow them."
“We ask all farmers, no matter what crop they are growing, to be mindful of weather conditions, talk to their neighbours and prepare properly for spraying.”
Cotton Australia has been running its annual spray drift campaign to educate farmers and reduce the risk of spray drift damage. The campaign includes advertisements on radio and workshops in cotton-growing areas to educate growers and other farmers about the correct ways to spray. But Mr Murray also urged growers to use the CottonMap service to alert their neighbours and spray contractors about the location of their cotton fields.
Cotton Australia urges growers whose crops have suffered spray drift damage to call the EPA Environment Line to report it: 131 555.