Grain Producers SA has today launched a new campaign encouraging growers to maximise the effectiveness of spray applications while minimising any unforeseen crop protection risks.
The campaign – Hit Your Target – provides hints, tips and resources on best practice spray application and calls on growers, advisers and the wider South Australian grain industry to minimise the risk of drift at every opportunity.
GPSA Chair Wade Dabinett says the use of sprays are fundamental to many cropping systems and Hit Your Target aims to support operators by collating the research into best practice techniques, technology and equipment.
“Knowing how to ‘hit your target’ is a simple and positive action that will help to ensure the grain industry has access to the tools to efficiently produce grain for many years to come,” Mr Dabinett said.
“To assist growers, the Hit Your Target campaign provides information to help grain producers successfully co-exist with their cropping, horticultural and viticultural neighbours, while achieving their own crop protection needs.
“Recent incidents of off-target spray damage show just how easily spray drift can occur. It is always unintentional but the consequences can involve hefty penalties in both crop loss and fines.
“Our industry is always about continual improvement and so we are working to raise awareness of best practice technologies, the importance of only spraying during the right weather conditions, using the right equipment and operating speeds and understanding how and when drift could occur.”
Best practice industry information is compiled on the GPSA website, providing a ‘one stop shop’ for producers. The key messages of the campaign are backed by a number of ‘Hit Your Target’ champions, who are all passionate about best practice food production.
Andrew Biele, the operations manager at Bulla Burra, runs a collaborative enterprise spread over 15,000 hectares on properties between Loxton and Alawoona.
With vineyards and almond and citrus orchards dotted throughout the Riverland and northern Mallee, Andrew is conscious of the effect off-target spray application could have both his own crops and on neighbouring enterprises.
There are a number of measures Bulla Burra takes to ensure spray applications stay in their own paddocks.
“Temperature inversions are a real risk for spray drift and these can place us and our neighbours at risk of off target damage so spraying should be avoided if certain conditions arise,” Andrew said.
“Wind direction and speed at the time of spraying are also key. We continually monitor wind direction with a hand-held weather meter. It might take us five days to finish spraying one paddock.
“Keeping equipment up-to-date is also important, particularly nozzle technology.”
Andrew says reducing ground speed when spraying has also made a huge difference in regard to reducing spray drift. All Bulla Burra staff participate in training so they are aware of best practice spray application techniques.
Independent consultant Peter Cousins, Crystal Brook, says there is an onus on growers to self-regulate when it comes to spraying.
He encourages growers to assess the conditions in the paddock while their sprayer is operating so they can see what is happening with an application and, if required, make adjustments to reduce the risks of drift.
Peter says increasing water rates and choosing the right nozzles are important in increasing droplet size. He also encourages growers to keep the boom height low and reduce ground speed to help reduce risks.
“It is also important growers follow the crop protection product label so their application technique meets the legal requirements.”
Andrew and Peter are Hit Your Target champions and more information on their advice, plus a range of industry best practice guides for best practice spray application are available on the GPSA website.