As the focus turns to summer weed control, Agriculture Victoria is reminding farmers of the significant risks of off-target spray drift to irrigated horticulture crops.
Agriculture Victoria’s northern region biosecurity area manager Ben Perry said dryland farming and irrigated horticulture were important contributors to the local economy and needed to coexist in the region.
He said there were serious risks associated with inversion drift as spray droplets trapped within an inversion layer tended to remain suspended until the relatively slow-moving air broke up and released the trapped droplets.
‘‘One of the biggest risks to horticulture comes from inversion drift, where damage from spray drift can occur many kilometres from the area being sprayed,’’ he said.
‘‘Spray droplets trapped in an inversion layer can travel significant distances, so grain growers need to be mindful of not just their immediate neighbours, but those further afield too.’’
Mr Perry said grapevines at this time of the year were particularly sensitive to Group 1 herbicides such as 2,4-D and MCPA and it was important that chemical users sprayed to the weather conditions of the day.
‘‘Drift can injure foliage and fruit, reduce yield, fruit quality and in severe cases result in the eventual death of grapevines,’’ he said.
‘‘There are also serious risks associated with unacceptable chemical residues in fruit produced on affected vines, which can affect the domestic and international wine trade.’’
Any growers who suspect they may have been affected by spray drift are encouraged to phone the Agriculture Victoria Customer Service Centre on 136 186 and ask to speak to their nearest chemical standards officer.