2012: Namoi Valley – Spray Drift Cotton. Pesticide: 2,4-D

EPA reminds landholders about herbicide drift

Environment Protection Authority


The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is reminding landholders about the risk of herbicide drift, especially when spraying phenoxyl based herbicides, during hot and windy weather.

EPA North Director, Gary Davey, said pesticide products containing phenoxyl such as 2,4-D can cause extensive damage to non-target crops, including cotton, grapes, tomatoes, oilseed and ornamentals. Spray drift can also cause considerable environmental damage to native vegetation, waterways and wildlife.

“Herbicides are an important part of agriculture, however, the misuse or mishandling of these chemicals can pose a danger to the community, environment and impact on agricultural enterprises”, said Mr Davey.

“For example, there was significant impact on cotton crops in the Namoi Valley between Narrabri and Wee Waa in late 2012 and in the MacIntyre Valley between Mungindi and Boomi in 2009.

“The emergence of broad-leafed weeds after the wheat harvest is usually a trigger for an increase in herbicide use to control these weeds.

“Landholders should carefully check the weather conditions prior to and during spraying and should be aware of their responsibilities when using herbicides. Anyone using herbicides should read the container labels carefully and it is a legal requirement to follow all directions.

“The EPA checks the records of landowners using these herbicides, including chemical applications and training records. Records must be kept to demonstrate that the herbicides were used responsibly. These records provide vital information if problems occur.

“In addition to following instructions and keeping records, we recommend that landholders should follow online guides and decision-making tools, use weather stations to confirm local conditions and use a GPS to log their operations.

“The EPA has a range of regulatory tools available in response to misuse including formal warnings, penalty notices and, for serious cases, prosecution for those who don’t do the right thing”.

The EPA encourages the reporting of alleged herbicide and pesticide misuse to the EPA Environment Line on ph: 131 555. Anyone making a report should describe what they see, smell or hear and note the time and weather conditions, if possible. These details will assist with any investigations.