An increase in spray-drift events this season has led to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority visiting farmers and landholders in Narromine and Warren to remind them of their legal requirements.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
In NSW, it is illegal to use pesticides in a way that could injure people or cause damage or harm to properties, plants and animals that are not the target pest species.
The government body undertook a targetted education program in the area on Tuesday, March 28 and Wednesday, March 29.
Carmen Dwyer, Executive Director of Regulatory Operations at the NSW EPA told the Daily Liberal the increase was likely to do with adverse weather limiting the time available for spraying - but she also believed there were some "rogue operators" who were doing the wrong thing.
"We've received 12 formal spray-drift complaints [across NSW] which is well down on average but anecdotally we're hearing about much more spray drift damage across the north-west of the state," Ms Dwyer said.
She said "a few things" had contributed to a difficult season for farmers, including floods, which resulted in "the effective spray window becoming small so everyone's trying to spray and manage their crops and get them in at the same time".
"Anecdotally, this is pushing a number of rogue operators to operate on the edge of what's acceptable," she said.
Ms Dwyer said spraying in adverse weather - particularly when it is windy or during "temperature inversions" - can lead to spray-drift.
She said the impacts of spray-drift on the farming community and environment are "devastating", costing millions and damaging crops and our natural environment".
"We want to remind major cropping areas that they need to always be taking appropriate precautions to prevent potential impacts to their neighbour or community," she said.
IN OTHER NEWS
"Everyone that uses these pesticides have both a legal and moral obligation to stop the drift."
Those found to have wilfully or negligently caused damage, harm or injury through pesticide misuse can face fines of up to $120,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a company under the Pesticides Act 1999.
Ms Dwyer urged the community to help the EPA find the offenders.
"We've visited over 80 farmers over the last couple of weeks, including nearly 40 in [the central west], and farmers continue to tell us there's a couple of rogue operators out there, but not many want to talk to us about who they are. If you think you know, you can report it anonymously to the EPA at 131 555," she said.
"If we know who those rogue operators are, we can take better steps to protect our community, the environment and farming crops."
For more information, go to: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/avoid-spray-drift
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.