2012 April: Southern Farming Belt (WA) Spray Drift – 18 Cases in One Season.

Spray drift damage a part of farming in Australia

Damage from spray drift into neighbouring properties is an inevitable part of agriculture in Australia, according to the country’s largest rural claims consultancy.

Cerno Agriculture is a loss assessment company that is contracted by farmers and insurance companies when there is a compensation claim after events like spray drift.

General manager Ken Bullen says he deals with a number of spray drift compensation claims every year in WA, ranging in value from a couple of thousand dollars to in some cases excess of a million dollars.

He says last season his company dealt with 18 claims in WA for spray drift damage, in the year before this figure was approximately 30.

“The southern farming belt was a little higher in number proportionately wise and I attribute that to it’s more closely settled in some areas there, and also a bit more broken up in terms of planting windows and spraying opportunities, and that’s usually when you get more trouble in terms of spray drift is when someone next door has a crop emerged and then spraying occurs on a neighbouring property,” he says.

He says changing winds are the biggest cause of spray drift damage, and the higher the spray application the greater the risk of drift. The largest compensation claims came from aerial spraying.

Mr Bullen says spray drift is an inevitable part of agriculture.

“I believe it is, I believe it can be minimised and good farming practices will certainly achieve minimising but it’s impossible to stop drift to some extent because once the droplets are released in the air you’ve got no control over them,” he says.

“The way to deal with a lot of this stuff is communication between neighbours, if they communicate before they spray and communicate after there is a problem you tend to not get as many issues.”