Incidents have been reported in all cotton-growing regions in NSW and Queensland, with at least 60,000 hectares of cotton damaged already this season. That represents more than 20 per cent of the entire crop with the financial impact expected to be more than $20 million.
In the vast majority of cases, Cotton Australia said the damage was caused by Phenoxy (2,4-D-type) spray that travelled during temperature inversions – in some instances moving tens of kilometres from the intended target fields.
“Heavier than usual seasonal rainfall has encouraged weed growth which, in turn, led to more spraying by farmers and applicators and this has combined with temperature inversions to produce substantial off-target spray drift.
The national chemical regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority is aware of the severity of the issue and is currently reviewing the 2,4-D pesticide and assessing environmental risks.
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Cotton Australia is urging cotton growers to report any damage suspected to have been caused by off-target spray drift and is working with other industry groups, including grain and pulse growers, and state and federal regulators to warn all farmers of the risks.