Are you changing your enterprise or purchasing formerly intensively cropped land?
Many landowners in north-east Victoria are changing their enterprise and need to consider what new enterprise best suits their property.
Caution must be exercised when undertaking a change in enterprise or farm management.
Alternative crop or grazing enterprises may not be suitable for land where high levels of chemical residues remain.
The department cannot guarantee that a new enterprise will be profitable. Additional resource inputs, such as equipment or trellising may be required when a new enterprise is established.
Growing intensive crops often involves the use of chemicals to control insects and other pests.
Organochlorine pesticides may have been used on some properties. These chemicals are persistent and remain in the soil for decades.
Agricultural produce consumed both in Australia and overseas is expected to be free of foreign substances and unacceptable chemical residues.
Officers are experienced in the area of land residue management and can provide advice on suitable enterprises and farm management systems that can bring land with residue issues back into production.
What can I do?
Before buying land or changing enterprises on land currently or previously used for intensive cropping, you can:
- Obtain the results of any soil tests previously carried out for chemical residues on the property;
- Seek advice on ways to test the property to determine current soil residue levels;
- Seek advice on suitable enterprises and farm management systems to prevent unacceptable chemical residues from entering our food products.
Factors to consider
- From the 1950s to the late 1980s, organochlorine chemicals such as aldrin, endrin, dieldrin and DDT were used to control pests in a number of intensive cropping industries.
- In some cases soil residue levels have reduced over time, however organochlorine residue levels continue to be detected in soils where these chemicals were used.
- Organochlorine residue levels will vary across paddocks, from paddock to paddock and from farm to farm.
- Organochlorine residue levels in these soils fall slowly and may be detectable for decades.
- High soil residues have been found in chemical mixing and storage areas.
- International standards have been set that define the level of acceptable chemical residues in produce, including meat.
- The intake of affected soil by grazing livestock is known to be the greatest risk, whereas the uptake of soil chemical residues in plants is less signifi cant.
- Livestock, especially cattle can accumulate organochlorine residues in their body fat by eating pasture, crops or from mud and dust taken in as they graze on affected land.
- The intake of soil and uptake of organochlorine residues is variable across different types of livestock and crops.
- Some properties may contain soil organochlorine levels too high to allow the continuous grazing of cattle without risk of cattle accumulating unacceptable residue levels.
- All paddocks where the use of organochlorine chemicals is known or suspected should be tested.
- Soil testing may not give a complete picture of residue levels.
- In some instances, additional testing of grazing livestock, crops or produce may be necessary to confirm that residue levels are acceptable.
- The department can provide advice on alternative crop or livestock grazing strategies.
Who to contact
For livestock production, or for growing pastures or fodder to feed livestock, contact:
Regional Veterinary Officer North East
Phone (03) 5761 1578
Mobile 0400 023 398
For horticultural crops for human consumption or horticultural crop residue management, contact:
Senior Chemical Standards Officer
Phone (03) 5430 4463
Mobile 0407 258 433