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Australia’s peak national grain producer groups are calling for increased vigilance on spray drift prevention to safeguard the industry’s high productivity and strong performance.

With summer weed spraying coming into focus, Grain Producers Australia and GrainGrowers have urged members to brush up on best practice and make use of available resources. GrainGrowers will soon launch a grower-focussed online hub, which seeks to provide growers with easy access to up-to-date resources on spray drift management, including a new video training series.

GrainGrowers CEO Shona Gawel said the grains industry was committed to meeting the challenge and minimising issues by ensuring best practice is always followed.

“The majority of growers take their land stewardship responsibilities very seriously and follow procedures that allow them to spray weeds effectively and efficiently and in a way that protects the surrounding environment," she said.

"Knowing what to do, checking your conditions, and considering your neighbours by notifying them of your spray plan are three simple steps to follow.”

Given the spray drift damage earlier this year, both bodies have thrown their support behind a proactive, national approach to stop it from happening again.

“We are committed to working cooperatively to drive positive and practical changes which help to protect our industry’s ability to remain productive and sustainable, especially controlling weeds,” the two peak grains groups said.

GPA Southern Grower Director and RD&E Spokesperson, Andrew Weidemann said it was critical to manage spray drift properly and be vigilant with application, to ensure growers can maintain access to critical on-farm tools that help drive productivity and sustainability.

Mr Weidemann is also the independent Chair of the National Working Party on Pesticide Application (NWPPA) – which was established in March 2010 to conduct targeted research relating to spray drift and inform the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority’s policy on spray drift.

Mr Weidemann said most growers did the right thing most of the time and followed product labels – but complacency on pesticide application was not an option, in the modern Australian grains industry.

“Spray drift is an ongoing challenge for industry, and there have been substantive investments in practice improvement, training and education opportunities and technology to reduce off-target incidents from spray application and improve stewardship, but there are no excuses” he said.

GPA Northern Director, Matthew Madden said growers and their representative groups recognised a strong and effective regulatory system is also needed, to protect the majority of growers who are compliant and doing the right thing, by weeding-out offenders with precise action and penalties.

“At the end of the day we need to recognise effective enforcement activity is also a key ingredient of success which supports and encourages best-practice, by ensuring there are real consequences for those who aren’t upholding the same high standards as others.

“If the speed limit says 60kms per hour and 999 out of 1000 drivers are following the law and driving within the limit, it would be an injustice if the police shut down roads just because they can’t catch and fine the speeding drivers.

“We need a system that protects those operating within the rules and penalises those putting other growers at risk, with non-compliant activities.”

GrainGrowers’ online spray drift resource hub that’s soon to be released will feature a commissioned video series and will link to a variety of available resources from GPA, GRDC and others.



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