While crops are thriving on recent rain in many cotton and cereal growing regions, so are weeds and to control the weeds, growers and contractors enlist the use of herbicides, often Phenoxy herbicide such as 2,4-D.
The off-target spraying of Phenoxy herbicide is estimated to be costing cotton growers millions of dollars, with Cotton Australia’s chief executive Adam Kay suggesting 20 percent of this season’s crop has been damaged by chemicals suspected to be coming from cereal growers nearby.
“This drift is coming from kilometres away, this is not a case where it’s a neighbour spraying and you can see the drift coming on to your crop, this is drift due to temperature inversions and it’s difficult to say where this is coming from,” Mr Kay said.
Cotton Australia is working with the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority [EPA] and Grains Research and Development Corporation to come up with ways to educate growers and spray contractors in a bid to minimise the occurrence of spray drift.
“Cotton Australia has already had conversation with the Bureau of Meteorology in regards to what we can do it the future and how we can assist people better in determining the presence of these inversions,” she said.
However, director of the organisation’s north branch Gary Davey says there wasn’t enough information to prosecute the cases reported from farmers at Mungindi, Garah, and Warren, of alleged spray drift damage to between 300 and 600 hectares of cotton.
“That’s the problem we have with Phenoxy; having no information that we’re able to follow up such as where is might have come from, when it was sprayed, and that’s the difficulty we have with so many of the chemical impacts.”