2015 December: Wee Waa region (NSW) Spray Drift Cotton. Pesticide: 2,4-D?

Spray drift damage on the rise after rain
By Amelia Williams
Dec. 4, 2015,

ON THE back of a wet season, growers neighbouring cotton farmers are reminded to be vigilant when spraying weeds with the risk of off-target spray drift.

Weed control has become crucial for farmers in Northern NSW and Queensland districts after recent rain.

Unfortunately, with an increase of farmers spraying for weeds, there’s also been an increase in reports of damaged cotton crops from spray drift.

Most of the 230 ha of irrigated cotton Todd Farrer, “Fernhill”, Wee Waa, planted has been affected rather severely by spray drift.

A block of 30 ha, which was planted later than the rest of his crop, hasn’t shown any damage from the drift as Mr Farrer said it wouldn’t have been emerged yet.

The rest of his crop is showing severe to moderate damage.

Mr Farrer said he detected the damage on November 18 and thinks the spray drift occurred when his cotton was between seven to eight nodes.

Weeks on, the crop still hasn’t shaken the damage and has still been producing hormone damaged leaves.

“The new nodes are still affected by it,” Mr Farrer said.

“It’s moderate to severe damage at the moment and it will be yield affecting.”

As well as being yield affecting, the damage will prolong Mr Farrer’s growing season, leaving the cotton exposed to water risk, like rain, at the end of the season.

Mr Farrer said there was little he could do about the already damaged plants and was just trying to keep his crop healthy until it grows out of the damage.

Cotton Australia general manager, Michael Murray, said all farmers spraying fields must be vigilant against the effects of drift, particularly using Phenoxy 2,4d herbicides.

“It is unfortunate these events must serve as a timely reminder to the potential dangers of spraying,” he said.

“Cotton farmers understand that weed control is important, but so is respecting your neighbors and their ability to earn an income from the land.”

Growers who are planning to spray chemicals which could affect cotton crops are urged to read the label’s guidelines and follow them.

Mr Murray said cotton growers could also use CottonMap, a service which allows them to alert their neighbors and spray contractors about the location of their cotton field.

Growers concerned about spraying can also use CottonMap to determine whether there’s any cotton crops in risk of spray drift.

CottonMap is available at www.CottonMap.com.au.