A guide to using agricultural chemicals in Victoria
- Licences and permits
- Planning and preparation
- Weather conditions headers
- Transportation, storage, mixing and disposal of farm chemicals
- Spray equipment and practice
- Preventing damage from spray operations
- Record keeping
- Emergency situations
This publication replaces the Code of Good Practice for Farm Chemical Spray Application, which was developed with assistance from the Victorian Farmers Federation, Avcare and the Victorian Agricultural Chemical Advisory Committee.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and WorkSafe Victoria were also consulted in the development of this publication.
The purpose of this publication is to provide agricultural chemical users, including farmers, commercial operators and their employees with practical guidelines for the safe and effective use of agricultural chemicals in Victoria.
Relevant Victorian legislation that places controls over the use of agricultural chemicals has been referred to throughout this publication. User responsibilities have also been highlighted, specifically those associated with ensuring agricultural chemicals are used appropriately and that spray applications do not move beyond the target area. Note that only ground-based spray application is covered in this guide.
Please note that user obligations under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992, the head of power for controlling agricultural and veterinary chemical use in Victoria, and its regulations are not replaced by the information contained in this guide. Chemical users need to be aware of, and comply with the Act and the regulations, as well as other relevant legislation.
Agricultural chemical product Any chemical that is defined as an 'agricultural chemical product' under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994. This includes any agricultural chemical product (herbicide, fungicide, insecticide, growth regulator or miticide) used to control pests or to modify the physiology of a plant or pest, as a part of standard farming practice.
APVMA Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
Drift The airborne movement of agricultural chemicals outside the target area as droplets, solid particles or vapour that occurs shortly after application.
Good agricultural practice (GAP) The nationally recommended, permitted or registered usage pattern of a chemical that is necessary for safe, effective and reliable pest control under actual conditions at any stage of production, storage, transport, distribution and processing of food commodities and animal feed.
Inversion: Atmospheric inversion, temperature inversion A layer of air near the ground in which air temperature increases with height, representing an 'inversion' of the typical temperature decrease with height in the air near the ground. Droplet spray drift and vapours can become trapped by the inversion, and travel for considerable distances from the target area. Cold drainage winds (katabatic winds) can increase the potential for off-target drift in inversion conditions. Inversions typically form in the late evening and strengthen overnight, and are often present the following morning until the ground and the air near the ground heats up.
Maximum residue limit (MRL) The maximum concentration of a chemical residue that is legally permitted to be present in or on a food, agricultural commodity or animal feed. Expressed in milligrams of the chemical per kilogram of the food (mg/kg).
Micron (µm) The standard measurement for droplet size (1000 µm = 1 mm).
Mister Spraying equipment that uses air for dispersing the spray and includes mist blowers, orchard sprayers, air blast sprayers, air shear sprayers and any other spraying equipment that produces a droplet size spectrum that is classified as fine or very fine under ASAE S572 FEB04, Spray Nozzle Classification by Droplet Spectra.
OH&S Occupational Health and Safety.
Off-label use The use of a chemical in a manner not specified on the registered product label.
Pest An unwanted organism (e.g. weed, insect, disease, nematode or mite).
Residue The amount of a chemical treatment, or its breakdown products, that can remain in or on produce. This can include elements (such as heavy metals) or pesticides, which may be present through agricultural or industrial activities or natural circumstances.
Sensitive areas An area of agricultural, community or environmental significance that may be harmed via exposure to agricultural chemicals if used nearby (e.g. schools, hospitals, sensitive crops, waterways, livestock, organic farms and bee foraging areas).
Spraying equipment Any equipment or machine used for spreading, spraying or dispersing an agricultural chemical product.
Target area In relation to agricultural spraying, means the area within which pests are intended to be controlled by the spray application.
Withholding period (WHP) The minimum length of time that must elapse between the last application of an agricultural chemical to a crop and the harvest, sale or use of the agricultural produce to which the chemical was applied. WHPs are stated on the product label, under the 'Table of Directions'.
Chemical Standards: Chemical use
Other useful sites
Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority: www.apvma.gov.au
Department of Human Services: www.dhs.vic.gov.au
Department of Health - Environmental Health: www.health.vic.gov.au/environment
Environmental Protection Authority (EPA): www.epa.vic.gov.au
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand: www.foodstandards.gov.au
SAI Global: www.saiglobal.com
Victoria Government Gazette: www.gazette.vic.gov.au
Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents: www.legislation.vic.gov.au
WorkSafe Victoria: www.worksafe.vic.gov.au
Commonwealth and Victorian Governments regulate agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Victoria. The Commonwealth Government regulates their supply and sale, while the Victorian Government regulates their use.
The Acts, regulations and orders mentioned in this publication are in force as at August 2010. Chemical users are advised to familiarise themselves and comply with the legislation. It is important to note that these, and other related legislation may change in the future.
2.1 Commonwealth legislation
The Commonwealth controls agricultural and veterinary chemicals through the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 and associated regulations.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) administers this Act, and is responsible for controlling agricultural and veterinary chemicals, from importation and manufacture to the point of retail sale.
There are some agricultural chemical products that can only be supplied to a person who holds State Government authorisation to use the product. These are referred to as APVMA 'Restricted Chemical Products' (see Table A: APVMA 'Restricted Chemical Products'). In Victoria, these chemicals are commonly referred to as 'restricted supply' chemicals. The authorisation to use these chemical products is an appropriately endorsed Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP) or appropriate commercial licence (see 4.1 Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP) and 4.2 Commercial services).
Table A: APVMA 'Restricted Chemical Products'
|Chemical products that contain:|
|Sodium fluoroacetate (1080)|
|Pindone concentrate for the preparation of poison baits|
|Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) (rabbit calicivirus) in injectable form and used for the preparation of poison baits|
|Pre-construction termiticide products that contain:|
Note: Table A only contains 'Restricted Chemical Products' that are registered as of October 2010.
2.2 State legislation
The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 ('the Act') places controls over agricultural and veterinary chemical use in Victoria and is administered by the department
The purpose of the Act is to impose controls in relation to:
- the use, application and sale of agricultural and veterinary chemical products, fertilisers and stock foods and the manufacture of fertilisers and stock foods
- providing protection against financial loss caused by damage and contamination to land, plants and stock from agricultural spraying
- the production of agricultural produce to avoid the contamination of food for human consumption.
The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2007 support the Act and provide an operation framework for chemical use in Victoria.
The objectives of the regulations are to:
- prescribe the records to be made and kept by users and sellers of certain chemical products
- prescribe information to be provided in relation to certain agricultural spraying to be carried out on land near schools, hospitals, aged care services or children's services
- prescribe the equipment to be used when carrying out aerial spraying
- rescribe other matters authorised by the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992.
Other relevant State legislation to be aware of includes:
- Environment Protection Act 1970
- Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981
- Dangerous Goods Act 1985
- Health Act 1958
- Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004.
Acts and regulations can be downloaded from the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website at www.legislation.vic.gov.au Copies can also be purchased from Information Victoria, 505 Little Collins St, Melbourne, phone 1300 366 356.
Orders relevant to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 can be downloaded from the Victoria Government Gazette website at www.gazette.vic.gov.au
Training is an important part of safe agricultural chemical use. Agricultural chemicals can be dangerous if incorrectly used, and pose the greatest risk to people who are exposed, or use them on a regular basis.
All chemical users should complete an appropriate chemical use training course. These courses are designed to improve the knowledge and skills of users by training them in the safe transport, handling, application and storage of agricultural chemicals.
3.1 Employer responsibilities
Like all employers – farmers, land managers and contractors are responsible for ensuring that employees are appropriately trained in the safe use of agricultural chemicals and possess an adequate understanding of:
- the pest
- the chemical and the product label
- the equipment and application method
- Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) issues
- sensitive areas (in relation to chemical use)
- any regulatory requirements (e.g. record keeping, notification, permits, licences).
4. Licences and permits
4.1 Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP)
In Victoria, a person must hold a valid ACUP, or be working under the direct and immediate supervision (i.e. within sight and sound) of an ACUP holder to use an agricultural chemical product that:
- is a 'restricted use' chemical (see 5.3.3 'Restricted use' chemicals)
- contains pindone concentrate for the preparation of poison baits.
From January 1 2008, an ACUP with a 1080 endorsement is required to purchase and use 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) pest animal bait products. Further information is available from 1080 pest animal baits and the Customer Service Centre on 136 186.
An ACUP is also required to purchase agricultural chemical products that are classified as APVMA 'Restricted Chemical Products' (see Table A: APVMA 'Restricted Chemical Products'). In Victoria, these are commonly referred to as 'restricted supply' chemicals.
An ACUP is not required by people who have, or are working under a Commercial Operator Licence (COL) (see 4.2 Commercial services) or a Pilot Chemical Rating Licence (PCRL) issued by the department, or a Department of Health issued Licence to Use Pesticides (LTUP), or who has completed an appropriate course in agricultural chemical use and operates under a recognised quality assurance program. A recognised quality assurance program requires chemical products to be used in accordance with the label directions, and is independently audited at regular intervals of less than two years.
Once granted, an ACUP is valid for 10 years from the date of issue. To apply for an ACUP, a person must complete an accredited course in agricultural chemical use, such as AusChem Victoria or SMARTtrain. Currently, no additional training is required during the 10-year period or to renew an ACUP.
Pindone concentrate and 1080 ACUP
Application forms are available under Application forms or from the Customer Service Centre.
4.2 Commercial services
Any business that provides a commercial service of applying agricultural chemicals (excludes domestic garden situations) by any method for a fee or reward requires one of the following licences:
- Commercial Operator Licence (COL) - required by people who operate a business that provides ground-based or post-harvest agricultural chemical application services for a fee or reward in Victoria.
- Department of Health Licence to Use Pesticides (LTUP) – required by pest control operators who apply pesticides primarily in domestic and commercial situations.
Note that there are different training and accreditation requirements for each of these licences. Further information on these licences is available from the Chemical use page under Licences and permits, and from the Department of Health Pest Control Program on 1300 887 090.
Application forms for issued licences are available from the Chemical use page under Application forms or from the Customer Service Centre.
4.3 Off-label use permits -Section 25A(2)(b)
To use a 'restricted use' chemical (see 5.3.3 'Restricted use' chemicals) off-label (see 5.3.4 Off-label use), you must hold a Section 25A(2)(b) Permit, issued by the department.
Any person who chooses to use a chemical in an off-label manner takes total responsibility for efficacy, residues in produce and the environment and OH&S issues.
Application forms are available from the Chemical use page under Application forms or the Customer Service Centre.
5. Planning and preparation
5.1 Risk management with agricultural chemicals
All chemical users should be aware of the potential risks involved in chemical use. There are long standing processes for risk management that utilise the following process for effectively managing risks:
- Identify the hazard
- Assess the risk
- Control the risk
There is also an established hierarchy of control of risks that provides a generic system of risk control. The hierarchy of control is applied in order, and movement to the next step in the hierarchy is only permitted when the existing step is impracticable.
The hierarchy of control is set out below:
- Eliminate - e.g. don't use chemical control
- Substitute - e.g. replace a higher hazard chemical with a lower hazard chemical
- Isolate - e.g. operate inside a filtered cabin on the tractor
- Engineering control - e.g. use closed transfer systems for chemical decanting
- Administrative control - e.g. require all chemical users to complete a farm chemical user course
- Personal Protective Equipment - e.g. wear overalls and protective equipment as required.
For further information on risk management and control, contact WorkSafe Victoria on (03) 9641 1444 or 1800 136 089 (toll free) and obtain a copy of the publication 'Managing Safety in Your Workplace'.
5.2 Consider whether a chemical is required
To begin, you must establish if a pest is actually causing the problem. Problems can result from a number of factors that are not pest related, such as poor nutrition or waterlogging.
If a pest is identified as being responsible for the problem, you need to quantify the cost of the damage to your crop or produce. You should ensure that it is financially sound to control the pest (i.e. the pest is causing enough damage that the cost of controlling the pest is less than the drop in value of the crop or produce).
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the principle used to describe a coordinated approach to dealing with pest management issues. IPM focuses on the use of a number of control methods in order to achieve satisfactory control of the pest. The recognition of the importance of beneficial insects (i.e. those that predate upon the target pest) is fundamental to successfully implementing IPM.
- Mechanical - e.g. ploughing, hoeing, pruning
- Cultural (also called Management Control) - e.g. hygiene strategies, crop rotations, controlled environments
- Biological - e.g. predator release, companion planting or pheromone disruptors
- Genetic - e.g. disease, insect or chemical resistant cultivars of plants
- Quarantine - creating an exclusion area (e.g. rabbit proof fencing, plant movement restrictions).
- Chemical - e.g. herbicide, fungicide, insecticide.
Use chemical control wisely. Remember, inappropriate use of a chemical wastes time and money, and can also create other problems, such as chemical resistance and damage to beneficial species.
5.3 Select the right chemical
If chemical control is the best option, choose the chemical that is most appropriate for the job, while being the least toxic to the operator, beneficial insects and the environment.
You must only use agricultural chemical products that are registered by the APVMA (unless you have a permit authorising you to use an unregistered chemical).
5.3.1 Chemical product labels
All chemical users need to understand the contents of chemical product labels. Labels for agricultural chemical products contain a vast amount of information to help users store, prepare and use products safely and efficiently. Information found on labels include:
- active constituents
- approved uses
- situations in which the chemical can be used
- pests the chemical is registered to control
- mixing instructions
- application rates and methods
- warnings, restraints and prohibitions
- withholding periods (WHP)
- storage and disposal instructions
- safety and first aid.
Using properly calibrated equipment and following the application rate and frequency, as well as the applicable WHP stated on the label should ensure that the domestic Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) is not exceeded.
Labels contain restraint statements and specify mandatory spray droplet size and no-spray zones to minimise spray drift (see 10.2 APVMA label changes to manage spray drift).
Whilst the use of certain chemicals off-label is permitted in specific circumstances in Victoria, where possible, you should select a chemical that is registered for the intended use. Registered uses are listed on the product label and can vary from state to state, so it's important to consult the product label when making your decision.
Further information about the chemical and its potential impact on the user and the environment can be obtained from material safety data sheets (MSDS), available from manufacturers or chemical resellers. A copy of relevant MSDS must be available on request to an employee who is applying the chemical.
When selecting a chemical, consider which formulation you should use. Some formulations are more likely to cause off-target damage than others. The more highly volatile chemical formulations (e.g. 2,4-D high volatile esters) are more prone to drift as vapour, either during or after application, and should be avoided whenever possible.
As an alternative to esters, consider other registered products such as amine formulations of 2,4-D and MCPA, which present a lower risk.
5.3.3 'Restricted use' chemicals
Restrictions apply to the use of certain agricultural chemicals in Victoria. These are known as 'restricted use' chemicals.
'Restricted use' chemicals are agricultural chemical products that:
- are Schedule 7 Poisons (Dangerous Poisons)
- contain atrazine
- contain metham sodium
- contain ester formulations of 2,4-D, 2,4-DB, MCPA or triclopyr.
'Restricted use' chemicals MUST only be used in strict accordance with label directions.
To use a 'restricted use' chemical, you must hold a valid ACUP, be working under the direct supervision of an ACUP holder or hold another form of authorisation (see 4.1 Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP) and 4.2 Commercial services).
It is illegal to use 'restricted use' chemicals off-label unless the user holds a Section 25A(2)(b) Permit issued by the department (see 4.3 Off-label use permits -Section 25A(2)(b)).
5.3.4 Off-label use
Off-label use refers to situations when a registered chemical is used in a manner that is not specified on the product label. Off-label use is intended to enable the use of agricultural chemicals in situations where extending label uses may be uneconomical for chemical companies (e.g. minor crops).
In Victoria, it is permissible to use agricultural chemicals in an off-label manner provided that:
- the product is not a 'restricted use' chemical (see 5.3.3 'Restricted use' chemicals). 'Restricted use' chemicals may only be used off-label if a Section 25A permit has been issued by authorising that use (see 4.3 Off-label use permits -Section 25A(2)(b))
- the maximum label rate for that use is not exceeded, unless a permit has been issued by the APVMA
- the chemical is not used at intervals more frequent than the intervals for that use as stated on the label, unless a permit has been issued by the APVMA
- the chemical is not used in a way that the label specifically states it must not be used (e.g. 'DO NOT apply by air'), unless a permit has been issued by the APVMA
- any specific label statements prohibiting the use are complied with (e.g. DO NOT statements)
- an insecticide is not applied to stored grain, grain during transit, or immediately before transit by means of a road transport vehicle unless that person holds a Section 25A permit that has been issued by the department authorising that use (see 4.3 Off-label use permits - Section 25A(2)(b))
- the agricultural chemical is not applied to an animal unless a permit for that use has been granted by the APVMA or the use is in accordance with the written instructions from a veterinary practitioner and the use is not prohibited.
Off-label use is not recommended by the department and is not included within a manufacturer's warranty. All aspects of off-label use are the user's responsibility, including efficacy, chemical residues in produce and the environment, environmental safety and OH&S issues. If a chemical product is used off-label, the resulting residues must comply with MRL standards, which often require there be no detectable trace of the chemical in the treated produce.
6. Weather conditions
As a chemical user, you have a legal obligation to avoid spray drift damage and to ensure that the chemicals you apply stay within the target area (see 10.1 Spray drift).
Before you start, you need to check that the weather conditions are suitable for spraying. Weather conditions can influence the effectiveness of a spray application (e.g. move spray off-target and injure non-target species).
Avoid spraying in the following conditions:
- winds less than 3 km/h and greater than 15 km/h for ground-based application, note that some products may require more specific wind conditions
- when winds are blowing towards herbicide sensitive crops, which may be damaged/contaminated by spray drift
- when winds are blowing towards sensitive services (e.g. school)
- unpredictable sea breezes and other winds caused by heating and cooling of the land throughout the day
- visible dust movement
- inversion layer at an altitude of less than 100 m
- still and frosty conditions
- excessively low (dry) or high (humid) relative humidity
- excessively low or high temperatures
- rain is forecast.
The following tools can be used to estimate or measure wind speed and direction:
- anemometers (available in small hand-held electronic meters)
- wind speed chart
- weather station
- smoke generator.
(See 9.5 Equipment to reduce spray drift).
A Guide to Estimating Wind Speeds is another useful tool that can be used, but only as a back-up to a hand-held anemometer.
Regularly monitor the conditions and be prepared to stop spraying if the weather conditions deteriorate.
Notification laws apply when applying agricultural chemicals by air or mister within 200 m of a school, hospital, aged care service, or children's service (e.g. kindergarten or child care centre).
At the time a person is employed or contracted to carry out agricultural spraying by aerial spraying or mister (excludes standard boom spraying), the land manager must:
- advise the employee or spray contractor in writing whether there is a school, hospital, aged care service or children's service within 200 m of the land to be sprayed
- provide the employee or spray contractor with details relating to the location of the school, hospital, aged care service or children's service.
The employee or spray contractor must not begin spraying without this information.
At least 24 hours before spraying is to occur within 200 m of these facilities, the spray employee or contractor must:
- provide the land manager with the name of the agricultural chemical product to be used and the proposed time, date and duration of the spraying.
At least 12 hours before spraying is to occur within 200 m of these facilities, the land manager must:
- make every reasonable effort to inform the school principal or site manager of the agricultural chemical product to be used, the location of the proposed spraying and the proposed time, date and duration of spraying.
It is good practice to notify neighbouring properties of your intention to use agricultural chemicals, as this provides them with the opportunity to implement protective measures on their property (e.g. move bees, divert flow from water tanks, cover ponds, take in washing) if needed.
8. Transportation, storage, mixing and disposal of farm chemicals
Before transporting, storing or handling a chemical product, always read and follow the directions on the label and MSDS. Use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure PPE is in good condition (see 12.2 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)). Take particular note about the chemical's compatibility with other chemicals.
Care should be taken when transporting chemical products to avoid spills and other accidents. Where possible, have products delivered to the farm.
If you must pick up chemicals yourself using a vehicle:
- securely stow chemicals in a separate compartment from passengers, food, stockfeed and fertiliser (the boot of a car and the cargo area of a station wagon are not separate compartments)
- ensure containers are properly packaged to avoid breakage
- display dangerous goods hazard symbols or class labels and hazchem signs as required (contact WorkSafe Victoria for more information).
Storing agricultural chemicals correctly will help prolong their shelf life and protect the health of people, animals and the environment. Chemical product labels and MSDS contain storage directions that should be followed.
Chemicals should be safely locked away from children, unauthorised people and animals.
Chemicals should be stored according to 'The Storage and Handling of Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals' (Australian Standard 2507-1998), which can be purchased from SAI Global, www.saiglobal.com
If storing chemicals in small quantities, you should:
- maintain a list of all chemicals kept in storage
- store chemicals in a cool, well-ventilated area that is away from direct sunlight (e.g. shed), lockable, has an impervious floor and shelving and is bunded to contain spills
- avoid stockpiling chemicals by purchasing them when the need arises
- store chemicals in their original labelled containers (if labels come off, re-label the container)
- keep all MSDS in a register nearby for easy access
- never store chemicals in food or drink containers
- separate incompatible/different chemical types to avoid cross-contamination
- never store chemicals with seeds, fertilizers, protective clothing or stockfeed
- ensure running water, first aid and other facilities as required by the MSDS are available.
Note: If you store chemicals that are classified as 'Dangerous Goods' in large quantities, there are special storage requirements under the Dangerous Goods (Storage and Handling) Regulations 2000 that apply. Contact WorkSafe Victoria for information and advice.
8.3 Decanting and mixing
Decanting and mixing chemicals is a potentially dangerous task that presents the greatest risk to handlers because chemicals are usually in concentrated form. The site where chemicals are mixed and loaded prior to application is also at risk of contamination from spills.
Choose a mixing site that is away from people, animals and stockfeed. Never eat, drink or smoke when mixing chemicals, nor allow children or unauthorised persons near the mixing operation.
The mixing site must be well ventilated, have good lighting and prevent any chemicals from draining into waterways or sewers. There should be a personal wash-down facility on the mixing site, with a ready supply of clean water and soap.
Only mix enough chemical for you to immediately use. Farm chemicals should be decanted in a way that minimises the risk of handler contact with chemicals. Chemicals designated as 'Hazardous Substances' are not permitted to be decanted unless the original label is attached to the new container. Wherever possible, use closed-tank mixing systems to fill application equipment. Steps should be taken to minimise the risk of spillage.
Hoses and pipes used to fill the spray tank with water should be fitted with a non-return valve, particularly where the hose is submerged while filling. This will prevent siphoning back from the tank into the water source if the supply is interrupted. Agitation should be sufficient to keep farm chemicals thoroughly mixed and suspended.
Triple rinse empty containers and drain rinse water into the spray tank.
Empty chemical containers and unwanted chemicals must be disposed of correctly. Follow label instructions for disposal requirements.
All containers should be emptied, triple rinsed and punctured through the lid opening and out the bottom before disposal.
Disposal methods include:
- return refillable containers to the chemical reseller
- dispose the container through a commercial disposal program that collects and recycles chemical containers that have been emptied and cleaned (e.g. drumMUSTER) (for information, visit www.drummuster.com.au, phone 1800 008 707 or contact your local council)
- dispose containers at an approved municipal landfill tip.
8.4.1 Rinse water
Rinse and washdown water should be disposed following Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) guidelines (visit www.epa.vic.gov.au for information). All empty chemical containers should be triple rinsed directly into the spray tank. If this is not possible, rinse water should be applied to land in an area that will not contaminate the environment or impact people, livestock or produce. Do not allow any contaminated water or chemical to drain into ground water, storm drains, sewers or other water supplies.
Applying left over spray mix to the same crop runs the risk of causing crop damage, unacceptable residues and loss of efficacy.
8.4.2 Unwanted chemicals
Concentrate chemicals should never be disposed of on-farm. Disposal must be carried out by a licensed waste disposal company or chemical collection program (e.g. ChemClear®, visit www.chemclear.com.au or phone 1800 008 182 for information).
9. Spray equipment and practice
The aim of a successful spray application is to ensure the correct amount of agricultural chemical is applied to the intended target, with no contamination to off-target areas. Before applying the chemical, consider what type of equipment is best suited to the job you intend to undertake.
Regular maintenance of spray equipment is essential to keep it in peak operating condition. Spray equipment should be maintained to manufacturer specifications and standards outlined below:
- nozzles should be replaced if worn or damaged, when there is a +/- 10% variation in their rated output, or each season if the rate has not been checked
- certain types of formulations (e.g. flowable suspension concentrates) tend to wear standard nozzles faster than other formulations, therefore you should monitor nozzles for wear more frequently (consult your nozzle manufacturer for specific information)
- spray equipment should be maintained in good order:
- hoses free of kinks, twists, cracks or splits
- filters clean and functional
- check the sprayer's pressure gauge annually, against a new or calibrated pressure gauge
- nozzle position and angle should be visually checked before each spray operation
- check that stabilizers on boom sprayers are working properly at the beginning of every season.
The sprayer should be calibrated regularly to ensure chemicals are applied evenly and at the prescribed application rate. A properly calibrated sprayer will reduce the risk of applying too much chemical, which can lead to unacceptable residues and damage to crops.
Before calibrating, make sure the sprayer is operating correctly. Never calibrate a boom with chemical in its tank and ensure that the tank is half full with clean water.
Calibration of a spray unit should be conducted:
- every season
- whenever application or chemical rates change
- whenever nozzles are changed
- at 50% of anticipated life of nozzles.
The travel speed used in calculating the calibration should match the usual operating methods and conditions. These include the usual gear, engine revolutions, slope and surface where spraying will occur.
9.3 Droplet size
Droplet size is very important when managing drift. Use a nozzle or sprayer setting that produces the largest possible droplet size (coarsest spray quality) to reduce the risk of drift without compromising the efficacy of the chemical.
The following factors can affect droplet size:
- Nozzle size and type - increase nozzle size to increase droplet size. Low drift nozzles are also available.
- Spray pressure - reduce spray pressure to increase droplet size. Use a larger nozzle for greater application volume rather than increase spray pressure.
- Evaporation - evaporation of droplets reduces their size. Droplets evaporate faster in high temperatures and in low humidity.
- Spray release height - the longer spray droplets are suspended in the air, the greater the potential for evaporation.
- Chemical formulation - some adjuvants can reduce droplet size.
Modern hydraulic nozzles are classified by an ISO system that classifies the output of a nozzle by colour. Two different types of nozzles (e.g. flat fan and AI) that are the same colour will have the same nozzle capacity - when used at the same pressure, both will produce the same output (L/min), only the droplet size may differ.
Table B: Nozzle colour classification scheme.
Droplet size is classified using the system introduced by the British Crop Protection Council (BCPC) and adapted by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE).
Users should consult their nozzle manufacturer's current catalogue to select the nozzle that will produce the required droplet size stated on the label, or as advised by their agronomist, consultant or the product's manufacturer (if no droplet size is specified).
Other spray application systems are also available, and users should discuss their specific requirements with manufacturers.
9.5 Equipment to reduce spray drift
Automatic rate controllers when set up correctly, allow pressure to change relative to the ground speed while maintaining the water rate, increasing the droplet size when travelling near sensitive areas.
Air-assisted sprayers provide directed air, which blows spray onto the target area and into a crop canopy. The air assists the spray moving against the wind.
Air induction/inclusion (AI) nozzles have a venturi which draws air into the body of the nozzle, where it is mixed with the spray solution under pressure. The spray pattern is made up of large air filled coarse droplets with very few fine droplets which may be prone to drift. The air bubbles in the droplets shatter on impact with the target providing good coverage.
Direct soil injection systems have sprays attached to tynes, which spray into the soil as the tynes break and lift the soil. No spray drift is possible because spray is confined beneath the soil. Vapour drift is still possible.
Low drift nozzles are very similar to a normal flat fan nozzle. The nozzle contains a plate with a small hole that reduces the energy of spray before it exits the nozzle, making droplets coarser and slower. This reduces the number of fine droplets that are likely to drift.
Standard equipment can be modified to reduce spray drift by using a coarser nozzle, reducing spray pressure or angling the nozzles forward, so that the boom can be lowered.
Shielded boom sprayers control drift using a physical barrier that contains the spray cloud, or act as an aerodynamic guide, controlling air flow around the nozzle. The controlled air flow is less turbulent, minimising the volume of droplets being carried away from the target. The air flow can also force droplets down onto the target.
Twin fluid systems inject compressed air into the spray at the nozzle, providing independent control of pressure and flow rate. Droplet size can be maintained at a lower volume rate because air pressure (not liquid pressure) is used to atomise the liquid.
More recent technologies include sensor-fitted equipment that only activate nozzles when passing over the intended target, and pulsating nozzles that can easily alter droplet size when required.
9.6 Cleaning sprayer after use
Always follow cleaning and decontamination instructions on the chemical product label. If in doubt, seek advice from the chemical reseller or manufacturer.
If there are no instructions, you should:
- clean the exterior of spray equipment and vehicle (e.g. tractor)
- remove nozzles and flush equipment with clean water (at least 10 L per nozzle), so dirt is rinsed out of lines
- remove, wash and replace nozzles and filters
- never leave spray chemical in spray unit.
10. Preventing damage from spray operations
10.1 Spray drift
Spray drift is the most common cause of off-target chemical movement. As an agricultural chemical user, you must take care to prevent spray drift.
It is an offence to undertake agricultural spraying which:
injures any plants or stock outside of the target area
injures any land outside the target area so that growing plants, or keeping stock on that land would result in contamination, or
is likely to contaminate any agricultural produce derived from plants or stock outside the target area.
A combination of various factors can contribute to spray drift, including wind speed and direction, temperature, boom height, droplet size and the volatility of the chemical.
It is important to check weather conditions when spraying. If the weather is unstable or unpredictable, don't spray (see 6 Weather conditions).
Delta T (Δ T) is an important indicator for acceptable spraying conditions. It is indicative of evaporation rate and droplet lifetime. Delta T is calculated by subtracting the wet bulb temperature from the dry bulb temperature. When applying pesticides, Delta T should ideally be between 2 and 8, and not greater than 10. Select the right Delta T to determine the best weather conditions for spraying.
You can also assess the risk of off-target spray drift using Table C: Risk of off-target movement. If the risk is high, you should delay spraying until factors have changed, reducing the likelihood of causing off-target spray drift damage.
Delta T conditions for spraying (source: Nufarm)
10.2 APVMA label changes to manage spray drift
Most agricultural chemical products labelled for outdoor use that can be applied as sprays or dust (some exemptions apply) will specify a mandatory spray droplet size on the label (see 9.4 Nozzles).
Spray drift restraint statements will be placed near the beginning of the directions for use section of the label under the title Spray drift restraints (see Example label excerpt).
When a product requires one or more no-spray zones, details will appear after the spray drift restraints section and under the title Mandatory no-spray zones.
Labels with no-spray zones will have restraint statements that specify the required droplet size for application, specify wind speed limits, prohibit spraying during temperature inversion conditions and specify how required application records must be kept.
Further information on APVMA's spray drift policy framework, APVMA Operating Principles In Relation To Spray Drift Risk and label requirements is available from the APVMA website, www.apvma.gov.au
Table C: Risk of off-target movement
|Factor||Potential Drift Hazard Scale||Comment|
|Wind speed||Still air or wind greater than 15 km/h||Steady wind (3 -10 km/h)|
|Wind direction||Unpredictable or towards sensitive areas||Predictable and away from sensitive areas|
|Humidity||Relative humidity (<40%)||Relative humidity(>80%)||Vapour formed and drop size reduction|
|Delta T (Δ T)||Δ T < 2||Δ T > 2||Avoid spraying when Δ T is <2 or >8|
|Atmospheric stability||Inversion layer present within 100m of spray release height||No inversion layer||Do not apply agricultural chemicals when an inversion layer is present|
|Temperature||High (>28 C)||Low (<15 C)|
|Sensitive area||Close (<100 m)||Far (>1 km)|
|Buffer zone||None||Distance >100 m|
|Vegetative barrier||No vegetation||Live shelter >2x release height, permeability 50%||Casuarina spp. make excellent barriers|
|Toxicity||S7 chemicals or LD50 dose <200 mg/kg||Chemicals with LD50 dose>5000 mg/kg|
|Maximum release height of spray||>1.5 m above target||<0.35 m above target|
|Targeting of spray||Directed above target||Directed at target||Frequently a problem in orchards|
|Droplet size||Fine||Coarse or very coarse|
|Travel speed||>20 km/h||<10 km/h, >4 km/h|
Note: A single high risk category should not necessarily prevent a spray application, particularly when offset by low risk factors (unless the high risk situation is an inversion layer). When several high risk conditions apply, the application should be delayed or an alternative sought).
DIRECTIONS FOR USE
DO NOT apply with aircraft
DO NOT xxxxxxxxxx
SPRAY DRIFT RESTRAINTS
DO NOT apply with spray droplets smaller than a COARSE spray droplet size category according to "APVMA Compliance Instructions for Mandatory COARSE or Larger Droplet Size Categories" located under this title in the GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS section of this label.
DO NOT apply when wind speed is less than 3 or more than 15 kilometres per hour.
DO NOT apply during surface temperature inversion conditions at the application site.
Users of this product MUST make an accurate written record of the details of each spray application within 24 hours following application and KEEP this record for a minimum of 2 years. The spray application details that must be recorded are: 1 date with start and finish times of application; 2 location address and paddock/s sprayed; 3 full name of this product; 4 amount of product used per hectare and number of hectares applied to; 5 crop/situation and weed/pest; 6 wind speed and direction during application; 7 air temperature and relative humidity during application; 8 nozzle brand, type, spray angle, nozzle capacity and spray system pressure measured during application; 9 name and address of person applying this product. (Additional record details may be required by the state or territory where this product is used.)
MANDATORY NO-SPRAY ZONES
DO NOT apply if there are aquatic and wetland areas including aquacultural ponds, surface streams and rivers within yyy metres downwind from the application area.
DO NOT apply if there are sensitive crops, gardens, landscaping vegetation, protected native vegetation or protected animal habitat within zzz metres downwind from the application area.
DO NOT apply if there are livestock, pasture or any land that is producing feed for livestock within uuu metres downwind from the application area.
Example label excerpt (source: APVMA)
10.3 Buffer zones and vegetative barriers
Buffer zones and vegetative barriers are valuable tools that can be used to reduce the potential for spray drift when applying agricultural chemicals.
A buffer zone is an area around a sensitive area in which agricultural chemicals should not be applied. The presence of a buffer zone allows spray drift to settle out of the air stream as it travels across the buffer zone before reaching the sensitive area. Prior to undertaking spraying, you should assess the risks and determine an appropriate buffer zone, as it will change from paddock to paddock and from year to year.
A vegetative barrier refers to a row of trees, shrubs or tall grasses that has been planted in strategic lines to reduce the extent of spray drift. They are effective in reducing spray drift by filtering out spray droplets in the air as it passes through their foliage. A vegetative buffer will not reduce vapour drift or odours associated with spray drift.
A good vegetative buffer should be:
- taller than the target plants or the spray unit used for chemical application
- trees or other plants with foliage that allows sufficient air movement (50% porosity)
- plants with long, thin, rough foliage which are more suitable as a vegetative barrier.
Examples of suitable plants include:
- casuarina or sheoak (Allocasuarina spp.)
- hybrid willows (evergreen only)
- rye corn
- bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.)
- tea tree (Leptospermum spp.).
Vegetative buffers are desirable:
- along crop or property boundaries
- next to sensitive areas (e.g. susceptible crops, residential areas, hospitals etc
- along sprinkler rows, bordering waterways
- between blocks or paddocks.
Off-target movement of agricultural chemicals can also be caused by run-off.
To avoid run-off:
- decant chemicals carefully to prevent spillage
- locate chemical mixing and wash-down sites away from streams, drains and bores
- store chemicals carefully to prevent leakage
- avoid back-siphoning chemicals when filling tanks
- dispose chemicals as discussed in 8.4 Disposal
- provide spray employee/contractors with a farm plan that outlines waterways
- observe any 'DO NOT...' statements on the label relating to spraying in wet or water-logged soils
- spray away from water when treating weeds on a bank
- establish vegetative buffers between crops and waterways
- cultivate across slopes
- use the right water rate for the soil type
- do not spray when rain is expected
- avoid over-irrigating after applying chemicals
- constantly monitor weather conditions while spraying is taking place
- ensure that application equipment is correctly calibrated.
10.5 Agricultural Chemical Control Areas (ACCAs)
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.
Victoria's Agricultural Chemical Control Areas
Table D: 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|
Table E: Chemicals prohibited by the specified method of application
|All ACCAs - except for Extended Mallee||
Any formulation of Picloram|
Hexazinone applied as a liquid
Products containing Sulfometuron Methyl
Ester formulations of Triclopyr
|Aerial spraying or mister application|
|All ACCAs - except for Extended Mallee||Ester formulations of 2,4-D, 2,4-DB or MCPA||All methods of application|
|Extended Mallee only||Ester formulations of Triclopyr||Aerial spraying or mister application|
|Extended Mallee only||Ester formulations of 2,4-D or MCPA||All methods of application|
Certain chemicals are prohibited from use within an ACCA unless the department has issued a permit, authorising the use (see Table F: Chemicals prohibited unless a permit has been granted by the department).
Table F: Chemicals prohibited unless a permit has been granted by the department
|All ACCAs - except for Extended Mallee||
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
|Aerial spraying or mister application|
11. Record keeping
It is compulsory to make the following records (see Table G: Record keeping requirements) 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, which have specific record requirements.
Users of household or home garden products are exempt from these record keeping requirements.
You may keep your records in a format that suits you (e.g. hand written, part of a quality assurance system) providing they contain the records listed in Table G, are clear, accurate and made available to an authorised officer upon request.
Table G: Agricultural chemical record keeping requirements
|1. Product trade name|
|2. Date the product was used|
|3. Application rate of the product|
|4. Crop/commodity that was treated or the situation in which the product was applied|
|5. Extent of use (the area of land treated, or the volume of water treated, or the volume of stored commodity treated, or the weight of the commodity treated)|
|6. Location where the product was used|
|7. Name and address of the applicator/supervisor|
|8. Name and address of the person for whom the application was carried out|
|9. The wind speed and direction at the time of application*|
* Required when a chemical is being sprayed outdoors except when using hand-held devices that are operated manually.
WorkSafe Victoria administers occupational health and safety laws that apply to all Victorian workplaces, including farms.
As a land manager or employer, you have a legal responsibility to provide a safe working environment.
Safety standards must be maintained according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 and associated regulations. Under these regulations, you must identify any hazards and implement systems to control them and protect workers and other people on-site.
For information, contact WorkSafe Victoria.
12.1 Information about chemicals
Product labels and material safety data sheets (MSDS) both provide information about the chemical product, its contents, health hazards, safe use and handling instructions, personal protective equipment (PPE) and first aid. MSDSs are available from chemical resellers and manufacturers and must be made available to employees and contractors who may be exposed to the chemical during handling, storage or use.
It is important that you and your workers read and follow directions on the product label and MSDS before preparing or using a chemical.
12.2 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment should always be worn when working with agricultural chemicals. Chemical product labels and MSDS outline the appropriate PPE to be worn when using the product.
As a land manager or employer, you must provide PPE that meets Australian Standards (AS) (see Table H: Australian Standards applicable to PPE) and ensure that it is used, cleaned and maintained.
12.2.1 Protective clothing
Chemical labels outline what PPE and protective clothing should be worn when using the chemical product. You should always wear what the label states.
As a minimum, you should wear the following protective clothing whenever handling chemicals:
- washable or disposable overalls
- washable hat
- rubber or PVC gloves
- rubber boots.
If you are handling concentrated chemicals, you should also wear:
- PVC apron
- face shield.
Personal protective equipment should be checked and cleaned after each use. Wash PPE separately from household washing. If any clothing is heavily contaminated by concentrated chemicals, it must be disposed of safely.
Damaged PPE should be immediately replaced.
Table H: Australian Standards applicable to PPE
|Eye protection||AS 1337 Eye Protection for Industrial Application|
AS 1336 Recommended Practices for Eye Protection in the Industrial Environments
|Gloves, aprons and other equipment||AS 2161 Protective Gloves and Mittens|
|Respirator||AS 1716 Respiratory Protective Devices|
AS 1715 Selection, Use and Maintenance of Respiratory Protective Equipment
|Footwear||AS 2210 Occupational Protective Footwear|
12.3 Re-entry periods
The re-entry period is the minimum period of time which must elapse after the application of a chemical product and re-entry of people to the treated area, unless the same PPE recommended during application is worn. Re-entry periods can be confused with WHPs. Remember that a re-entry period is to do with the safety of anyone re-entering the treated area and a WHP is designed to limit chemical residues in produce.
It is important to adhere to any re-entry periods specified on the chemical product label.
Common precautions to take when using agricultural chemicals include:
- do not allow others, including children, to be where chemicals are being mixed or applied
- never eat, drink or smoke when using agricultural chemicals
- avoid chemicals touching your skin, eyes or mouth
- immediately wash your hands or any skin exposed to chemicals
- do not use your mouth to clear blocked nozzles or suck the end of a hose to begin siphoning
- never store agricultural chemicals in unlabelled containers or in drink bottles whether they are labelled or not
- use equipment that minimises contact with chemicals (e.g. metering pumps, self-cleaning filters and electronic spray controllers)
- stop work and seek medical attention if you feel ill or show symptoms of poisoning
- keep spray downwind of the operator. If this is not possible, wear a respirator and hood in addition to PPE.
For the safe use of tractor cabins:
- do not take any contaminated clothing or equipment into the cabin
- only use approved chemical filters
- change filters regularly according to manufacturer specifications
- if a tractor cabin has no appropriate chemical filters and does not provide protection from chemical vapour, wear PPE as advised by the label.
13. Emergency situations
Planning for emergency situations is essential. Emergency procedures should cover chemical leaks and spills, fires, poisoning, as well as clean-up operations. Consult the MSDS for information on first aid, fire fighting equipment and the chemical's compatibility with water.
Spill equipment, such as soil, sand or vermiculite should be kept at mixing and storage facilities and used to clean up any chemical spills that occur.
When cleaning up spills, you should:
- remove non-essential people from the spillage scene
- wear full PPE as recommended on the label
- if a container is leaking, move it to another location to minimise the spill, or decant contents to another container and label properly
- use sand or soil to prevent the chemical spreading
- absorb liquid spills with sand or vermiculite - never use sawdust as it can react with some chemicals and spontaneously combust
- follow label cleaning instructions to clean area
- dispose of all contaminated materials following EPA guidelines.
For major spills, call the Country Fire Authority (CFA) on '000' for help.
If a person is injured by a chemical spill and requires medical attention, or has been exposed to an OH&S risk as a result of a spill, the spill must be reported to WorkSafe Victoria.
As part of your emergency planning, it's wise to regularly practice a fire drill and check all fire equipment to ensure it's in good condition and is ready for use. A dry chemical powder fire extinguisher should be kept in the chemical storage location.
Chemicals should be stored separately from fuel and away from residential areas and livestock.
In the event of a fire, you should:
- raise the alarm
- obtain expert help - call the CFA and advise them about the types of chemicals stored
- move all people upwind (evacuate from down wind)
- once the fire is out, treat as a spill.
Poison Information Centre Phone 13 11 26.
Phone '000' in some rural exchange areas
The Poison Information Centre is a 24-hour, 7 days-a-week service.
Follow first aid instructions on the chemical label and call the Poison Information Centre or a doctor.
Remember to do the following:
- avoid getting contaminated yourself – you are no use to anyone if you also become a casualty
- if the victim has collapsed, stopped breathing, is fitting or is suffering from an anaphylactic reaction, phone 000 for an ambulance immediately
- remove the cause of contamination from the casualty by washing and removing contaminated clothing if safe to do so
- if affected by chemical vapour, move the casualty to well-ventilated area if safe to do so
- keep a fully stocked first aid kit available at all times. Include items recommended on chemical product labels.
If medical treatment is required, you must notify WorkSafe Victoria.
For further information, visit the Chemical use page or contact the Customer Service Centre on 136 186.