2019 April: St George community forum addresses issue of spray drift (Queensland)

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St George community forum addresses issue of spray drift

19 April 2019

https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/6080070/st-george-landholders-tackling-spray-drift/?cs=4717

Continued incidents of spray drift nation-wide and an estimated damage bill of $1 million to local vineyards have seen St George landholders come together to tackle the issue at a local level.

A group of almost 50 cotton, horticulture and grain growers, as well as industry and regulatory representatives, gathered earlier this month to discuss regulations, education and how best to tackle the issue.

CottonInfo extension officer Andrew McKay said other than discussions around regulations with representatives from APVMA, EPA NSW, and Biosecurity Queensland, the other significant presentation was from Brett Mawbey of SOS Macquarie.

“SOS Macquarie is a group that is already established in the Macquarie Valley in NSW, and they’re doing what we’re hoping to achieve which is basically educating spray applicators and chemical users, raising their awareness of the issues and perhaps trying to go about how to do it better,” he said.

Mr McKay said they hoped to establish a working group in the local area.

“Hopefully the group can get involved in helping to deliver an education piece around how to set up sprayers properly, and get expert input into doing that and working collaboratively with the regulators,” he said.

Spray drift, which hit most vineyards in the St George region in mid- to late-September, left an estimated damage bill of $1 million as a result of yield losses and extra picking costs.

Riversands Vineyards owner David Blacket said he had hoped vines would grow out of early leaf damage but losses became apparent in early November.

Growers say it is unclear yet if the vines will also be affected next season.