2015 January: Sandy Flat (NSW) Spray Drift. Pesticide: 2,4-D

Million dollar disaster forces EPA to act on sprays By Matthew Purcell
Jan. 7, 2015,

ONE farmer’s bout with harmful herbicide is being used as a cautionary tale after the NSW Environment Protection Authority issued a warning of drift impacts.

A Sandy Flat tomato grower’s crop was decimated earlier this year following a nearby farms use of 2, 4-D herbicides.

The EPA has urged farmer’s to be more mindful when utilising particular sprays on or around sensitive crops.

Grower, Rodney Haynes, has been left to count the million dollar damage to his production following the incident.

Mr Haynes urged people to take care when spraying crops but conceded he may just be an unfortunate case.

“I’ve been there for 12 years and this is the first time there has been an issue – it’s surprising the damage that the chemicals can do,” he said.

He was able to pick a portion of the crop but said the herbicides had severely hampered his production yield and the quality of the crop.

The EPA’s Manager Armidale Region, Simon Smith, says some crops are very vulnerable to particular herbicides and can be damaged as a result of unintended herbicide drift.

“Be aware of your neighbours and be aware of weather conditions when spraying weeds because tomatoes, grape vines and other crops are highly sensitive to 2, 4-D herbicides, as are some common pasture species,” Mr Smith said.
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The Environment Protection Authority has completed its investigation into the damage done to the Tenterfield crop last year.

“While soil, water and vegetation testing failed to find conclusive evidence, the crop damage was consistent with damage caused by 2, 4-D spray drift,” Mr Smith said.

“As well as causing major economic damage, herbicide drift can also potentially put people’s health at risk.”

“What we are seeing is an expansion of vegetable crops and also grapevines particularly in the Tenterfield area.

“That means the risk of impacting these sensitive crops will increase if pesticides are not used properly or used in the wrong conditions,” he said.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) have banned the use of high volatile ester as of August 31 and the EPA is also urging landholders to lawfully dispose of any remaining stocks.