Chemical use – what I can and can't do
In Victoria, the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 came into operation August 1, 1996, setting the rules for chemical use in Victoria. Since then, a number of amendments have been made to the Act to improve its operation.
Restrictions apply to the supply and use of certain high risk chemicals (including off-label use), records required for certain chemicals used, as well as the establishment of Agricultural Chemical Control Areas (ACCAs), designed in order to protect susceptible crops from damage.
Supply of chemical products
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), previously known as the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (NRA), is responsible for all aspects of agvet chemical manufacture, importation, registration, and review, up to and including the point of sale and supply.
In recent years, the APVMA has restricted the supply of high risk chemicals to ensure they are only supplied to 'authorised persons' who have successfully completed accredited training in their handling and use. These chemicals are known as 'restricted supply' chemicals and include 1080, PAPP, endosulfan and mevinphos.
It is a condition of registration that these products only be supplied to individuals authorised by the State, and it is an APVMA offence to supply these chemical products to an unauthorised person. In Victoria, this authorisation is an Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP). A valid ACUP must be held by the person receiving one of these products, whether they will be the end user (who must also hold an ACUP) or not.
CAN DO: If you hold an ACUP, you can be supplied with 'restricted supply' chemicals.
'Restricted use' chemicals in Victoria
Agriculture Victoria has a system of restricting the use of certain high risk chemicals. These chemical are referred to as 'restricted use' chemicals and include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and fumigants.
'Restricted use' chemicals are agricultural chemical products that:
- are Schedule 7 Poisons (Dangerous Poisons)
- contain atrazine, metham sodium or ester formulations of 2,4-D, 2,4-DB, MCPA or triclopyr.
It is important to note that 'restricted supply' chemicals (APVMA) are different from 'restricted use' chemicals (Agriculture Victoria). A product may have Agriculture Victoria state use restrictions, but not APVMA supply restrictions.
CAN DO: You can only use 'restricted use' chemicals according to label directions.
Individuals using 'restricted use' chemicals must hold a valid ACUP or be working under the direct supervision of an ACUP holder.
Different arrangements apply to Agriculture Victoria licensed spray contractors and chemical users operating within a recognised Quality Assurance (QA) program that requires chemicals to be used in accordance with label directions and is independently audited at regular intervals of less than two years.
CAN'T DO: You can't use 'restricted use' chemicals without an ACUP unless you're working under the direct supervision of an ACUP holder, are a licensed Commercial Operator or operate under a recognized QA program.
If a person proposes to use a 'restricted use' chemical for a use that is not listed on the chemical product label, they must submit an application for a Section 25A Permit to Agriculture Victoria.
Application forms are available from the Chemical use section of this website. On receipt of an application, Agriculture Victoria will conduct a risk assessment of the proposed use (this may require the applicant to collect data), and will decide whether or not to issue the permit depending on the results.
CAN'T DO: You can't use 'restricted use' chemicals off-label without a Agriculture Victoria permit authorising that use.
Some categories of off-label use are restricted nationally, such as when a chemical is used:
- at a higher rate than that listed on the label
- more frequently than the frequency listed on the label
- contrary to a specific label statement (e.g. DO NOT statements).
In these cases, a permit issued by APVMA is necessary to legalise the use.
Chemical use records
It is compulsory to make specified records within 48 hours of using an agricultural chemical product, and keep these records for a period of two years. This applies to all agricultural chemicals used, including poison baits used for pest animal control. This requirement came into effect on 24 July 2007 and excludes the use of household or home garden products.
Likewise, specified records must be made within 48 hours of using a veterinary chemical product that is classified as a Schedule 4 Poison (Prescription Animal Remedy) or any animal health product which has an applicable withholding period to treat stock animals. Again, these records must be kept for a period of two years.
Agriculture Victoria does not specify the format in which these records must be kept. This is to provide a degree of flexibility to users who may wish to keep records on computer, in hard copy (e.g. record book, paper files) or a combination of both.
An important feature of any record is that it must be readily available to an authorised officer upon request.
CAN DO: You can keep records in a format that suits you, providing that you capture all the necessary information.
Chemical record books that comply with regulatory requirements are available commercially. Record keeping templates for recording the use of agricultural chemicals, poison baits and veterinary chemicals (including hormonal growth promotants) are also available from the Chemical use section.
Off-label use of chemicals in Victoria
Off-label use refers to situations when a chemical is used in a manner that is not specified on the chemical's product label. Examples of off-label use include when a chemical is used to control a different pest or to protect a different host (crop or animal), at a different rate, or in a different manner to that listed on the label. Any variation from the label Directions for Use constitutes an off-label use.
In Victoria, it is legal to use chemicals other than 'restricted use' chemicals off-label providing that:
- the maximum label rate is not exceeded
- the label frequency of application is not exceeded
- any specific label statements prohibiting the use are complied with (e.g. DO NOT statements).
Any person who chooses to use these chemicals in an off-label manner does so accepting total responsibility for:
Efficacy - whether the chemical achieves the desired result or not
- Residues in the environment
- Occupational Health and Safety issues
- Residues in produce.
CAN DO: You can use chemicals off-label under certain specified circumstances as long as they are not 'restricted use' chemicals.
Agricultural Chemical Control Areas
Nine Agricultural Chemical Control Areas (ACCAs) have been established in Victoria to protect herbicide sensitive and high value crops (such as grapevines, vegetables, and fruit trees) from damage. The types of herbicides, their method of application and the periods in which certain chemicals can be applied are restricted in these areas.
Diagram 1: Victoria's Agricultural Chemical Control Areas
Table 1: Dates ACCA restrictions are operational
|Mallee and Mid-Murray||1 August – 30 April the following year|
|Extended Mallee||1 August – 30 April the following year|
|Goulburn Valley||1 September – 30 April the following year|
|North-Eastern||1 September – 30 April the following year|
|Rutherglen||1 September – 30 April the following year|
Chemicals prohibited by aerial spraying or mister application whilst an ACCA is in operation (except Extended Mallee) are:
- any formulation of picloram
- hexazinone applied as a liquid
- products containing sulfometuron methyl
- ester formulations of triclopyr.
Chemicals prohibited by all methods of application whilst an ACCA is in operation (except Extended Mallee):
- ester formulations of 2,4-D, 2,4-DB or MCPA.
CAN'T DO: You can't use ester formulations of 2,4-D, 2,4-DB or MCPA in an ACCA while it is in operation
Chemicals prohibited from aerial spraying or mister application whilst an ACCA is in operation (except Extended Mallee) unless a permit has been granted are:
- any formulation of chlorsulfuron, clopyralid, glyphosate or metsulfuron methyl
- any amine formulation of MCPA, MCPB, 2,4-D, 2,4-DB, dicamba, mecoprop or triclopyr.
Chemicals prohibited while the Extended Mallee ACCA is in operation are ester formulations of:
- 2.4-D or MCPA – by any means of application
- triclopyr – by aircraft or mister application.
(Mister = spraying equipment that uses air for dispersing the spray, including orchard sprayers, air blasters and air shear sprayers that produce a fine or very fine spray quality according to the American Society of Agricultural Engineers Standard 572, but not air assisted boom sprayers, twin fluid nozzle sprayers or knapsack sprayers.)
ACCAs are defined by Parish boundaries, and the Lot numbers within those boundaries. Knowing this information for a property will help determine whether or not it is within an ACCA. Accurate maps and descriptions of ACCA boundaries are available from Agriculture Victoria offices and this website.
The department encourages the on-label use of agricultural chemicals while acknowledging that this may not always be possible, especially when exotic pests are infesting crops, or in some minor crops where there are no chemicals registered for pest control. The department, also encourages the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques wherever practicable to ensure better, longer lasting pest control.
Before using any chemical, users should always read and familiarise themselves with the entire label, and obtain a copy of the product's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Both provide useful information about the chemical product, its contents, health hazards, safe use and handling instructions, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and first aid. Copies of MSDS's are available free upon request from chemical resellers or manufacturer's websites.
Chemical users should also familiarise themselves with the Control of Use legislation in Victoria to ensure they meet their legal obligations. Remember, it's considered a user's 'duty of care' to understand and comply with all the factors outlined throughout this publication.
- Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website
- Visit our Agricultural chemical use pages.
Chemical Standards Officers
Fax: (03) 5430 4590
|Statewide||Steve Field||(03) 5430 4463|
|Northern||Alex Perera||(03) 5430 4591|
|Felicity Collins||(03) 5833 5203|
|South West||Neil Harrison||(03) 5336 6616|
|Craig Clutterbuck||(03) 5226 4719|
|South East and Metro||Jane Collin||(03) 5172 2198|
|Natalie Myring||(03) 8427 2391|
|Dylan Schmidt||(03) 5624 2311|
Enquiries from other regions should be directed to the nearest of the above-named regional officers.