More than 350 farmers, agronomists and chemical resellers attended a series of information sessions across the Macquarie Valley during March where the focus was on safe chemical spraying.
The information sessions were the result of a meeting between agricultural chemical suppliers, chemical resellers, farmers, agronomists and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in Dubbo in February to address the industry’s concerns about safe spraying.
The meeting was coordinated by the EPA, in collaboration with the SOS (Stop Off-Target Spraying) Committee, which is made up of concerned representatives of the agricultural industry in the Macquarie Valley.
Committee Coordinator, Tony McAlary said the meeting was the result of discussions the SOS Committee held with the EPA about how landholders could work together to address spray drift issues after several reports of crop damage in the Warren region earlier this summer.
“A range of grain and cotton farmers, agronomists and chemical resellers have joined forces to address an issue that is affecting our environment and cannot be sustainable in the long term,” Mr McAlary said.
“Our focus is on highlighting changes in best practice for applying chemicals and showcasing the technology available to support good spray decision making.”
Chemical spray expert Mary O’Brien, who is known as The Spray Drift Girl, and Harry Pickering of Adama Australia presented the free information sessions at Nevertire, Collie, Marthaguy, Narromine and Armatree.
Mr McAlary said growers in the region were highly motivated by the knowledge that if the industry does not educate and regulate itself, bureaucratic restrictions and bans could be imposed and the existing range of chemicals may no longer be available.
“We recognise that current practices are not sustainable and if we want to drive change, rather than having new rules enforced on us, we need to act now,” he said.
The committee is investigating what technology is available, including access to weather stations and detailed alerts that are available to support good decision making before spraying.
It is also planning a field day and spray machinery demonstration in spring with Bill Gordon of Nufarm Australia, who developed a handy spray guide to help inform decision making.
The day is likely to be held in Dubbo to address a range of spray drift and chemical use issues.
For details about the committee, email firstname.lastname@example.org or for further detail contact your local AGnVET branch.
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