Agricultural chemical use - licences and permits
Licences and permits
In Victoria, people in the business of commercially applying agricultural chemicals or who apply higher risk chemicals need a licence or permit. This requirement is in place to regulate operational standards, which benefit all Victorians.
The use of agricultural chemicals is controlled by the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992 (the Act), which is administered by the department.
The department is responsible for issuing three commercial licences:
- Commercial Operator Licence (COL)
- Agricultural Aircraft Operator Licence (AAOL)
- Pilot (Chemical Rating) Licence (PCRL).
Private users of higher risk agricultural chemicals (e.g. farmers, farm hands, council workers) are also regulated by the department to ensure these chemicals are being used safely and responsibly. In this instance, an Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP) may be required, depending on the type of chemicals being used.
The Department of Health is responsible for issuing the Pest Control Operators Licence (PCOL) under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. A PCOL is required by people in the business of pest control in domestic and commercial premises.
Figure 1 outlines the licence or permit required for different purposes.
If you are unsure which licence or permit applies to your specific circumstances, seek advice from the department (phone 136 186) or the Department of Health (phone 1300 887 090).
Figure 1 Chemical use licences and permit decision maker
|I apply chemicals to other people's property, crops or commodities for a fee or reward||I operate a business that provides ground-based chemical application services for weed or pest animal control or for agricultural purposes||COL|
|I use chemicals for pest control in domestic, commercial and industrial settings||PCOL|
|I run an aerial spraying business||AAOL|
|I am a pilot who works for an aerial spraying business||PCRL|
|I am a pilot and run my own aerial spraying business||AAOL + PCRL|
|I apply chemicals to my own property, crops or commodities||ACUP (required for higher risk agricultural chemicals)|
|I apply chemicals to property, crops or commodities owned by my employer|
Commercial chemical use licences
Commercial Operator Licence
A Commercial Operator Licence (COL) is required by people who operate a business that provides ground-based agricultural chemical application services (i.e. all application methods excluding aerial) for a fee or reward in Victoria.
A person or business is exempt from the requirement to hold a COL if agricultural chemicals are only being used in gardens associated with residential premises and the person using chemicals has completed a recognised training course in farm chemical use.
There are three types of COL endorsements:
* COL - Agricultural chemicals (other than vermin destroyers/avicides and fumigants) endorsement: required by people in the business of applying agricultural chemicals for agricultural or horticultural purposes, including forestry, seed treatment, post-harvest treatment and the control of weeds, insects and diseases.
* COL - Vermin destroyers/avicides endorsement: required by people in the business of vermin (pest animal) control in rural areas (e.g. fox, rabbit or bird control). This includes the fumigation of rabbits.
To use products containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) under a COL, you must successfully complete the 21835VIC Course Minimising the Risks in the Use of 1080 Pest Animal Bait Products for Vertebrate Pest Control in addition to the standard vermin destroyer training course. All staff who use 1080 pest animal bait products under this licence must also have completed this course. Contact the Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or go the1080 Pest Animal Bait page to the for further information.
* COL - Fumigants endorsement: required by people in the business of agricultural/horticultural commodity fumigation or soil fumigation.
A PCOL is required by people in the business of pest control in domestic and commercial premises. This includes the control of termites, rodents, general insect pests and pest animals in and around domestic and commercial premises and the fumigation of manufactured goods.
A PCOL is not required if the chemical use is for the purpose of agriculture, horticulture, weed control or pest animal control other than around domestic and commercial premises. A COL may be required in this instance. Contact the Department of Health Pest Control Program on 1300 887 090 for information.
Agricultural Aircraft Operator Licence
An Agricultural Aircraft Operator Licence (AAOL) is required by the operator of any business that provides an agricultural chemical aerial spraying service, or employs pilots to carry out aerial spraying in Victoria.
Interstate AAOL equivalents are not recognised in Victoria. Any person wishing to operate an aerial spraying business in Victoria requires a department AAOL.
If you operate an aerial spraying business and are also a pilot, then you must hold an AAOL and a Pilot (Chemical Rating) Licence (PCRL).
Pilot (Chemical Rating) Licence
A Pilot (Chemical Rating) Licence (PCRL) is required by pilots conducting aerial application of agricultural chemicals in Victoria. This includes the application of pest animal baits via aircraft.
Interstate PCRL equivalents are recognised in Victoria and do not require an additional application to the department.
To use products containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) under a PCRL, you must successfully complete the 21835VIC Course Minimising the Risks in the Use of 1080 Pest Animal Bait Products for Vertebrate Pest Control. Contact the Customer Service Centre or go the1080 Pest Animal Bait for further information.
If you are a pilot, and also operate an aerial spraying business, you must hold a PCRL and an AAOL.
Department licences (COL, AAOL and PCRL) are valid for three years from the date of issue.
Department chemical use permits
Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP)
People who use 'restricted use' chemicals (see 'Restricted use' chemicals) for personal use (e.g. farmers, farm hands, council workers) must hold an ACUP or be working under the direct and immediate supervision of an ACUP holder. An ACUP does not authorise a person to run a business that provides chemical application services for a fee or reward.
There are five types of ACUP endorsements available:
- Standard – to use higher risk 'restricted use' chemicals
- 1080 (Sodium Fluoroacetate) – to use pest animal bait products that contain 1080. Note this endorsement is an addition only to an existing endorsement.
- Fumigants - to use agricultural chemical products containing methyl bromide, or phosphine formulated as liquefied gas.
- Pindone concentrate – to use chemical products containing pindone concentrate for the preparation of poison baits.
- Copper, chrome and arsenic (CCA) - to use CCA in specialist timber treatment plants. Different combinations of these endorsement types are available (excluding CCA).
An ACUP is valid for ten years from the date of issue.
How to apply
To apply for a commercial chemical use licence or an ACUP, you must successfully complete the required training course or hold the appropriate accreditation (as described on the relevant application form), then send a completed application form and payment to the department.
Different training and accreditation requirements apply for each of these licences and ACUP endorsement types. Information is available from the Chemical use page, under Licences and Permits.
Application forms are available under Application Forms, or from the Customer Service Centre.
Responsibilities for agricultural chemical users
Users of agricultural chemicals are required to understand and follow their legislative responsibilities under the Act and its associated regulations. Some of these responsibilities are outlined below.
General chemical use restrictions
Agricultural chemicals must not be used in the following manner:
- at a rate higher than the maximum application rate for that use, as stated on the label
- at intervals more frequent than the intervals for that use, as stated on the label, or
- in a way that the label specifically states it must not be used (e.g. 'DO NOT apply to leafy vegetables').
To use a chemical in any of these ways, the user must be granted a permit by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), authorising that use.
Different restrictions apply to 'restricted use' chemicals.
'Restricted use' chemicals
Victoria has specific controls over a group of higher risk agricultural chemical products 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.
To use 'restricted use' chemicals, a person must hold an ACUP (or be under the direct and immediate supervision of an ACUP holder), PCRL, PCOL, COL or be working under a COL.
'Restricted use' chemicals must only be used according to the label directions unless the off-label use is authorised under a Section 25A(2)(b) Permit from the department. The application form, Off-label use of restricted chemical product permit is available from the Chemical use page under Application Forms.
Record keeping requirements
Under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2007, it is compulsory to make the following 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.
- Product trade name
- Date the product was used*
- Application rate of the product
- Crop/commodity that was treated or the situation in which the product was applied
- 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)*
- Specific location where the product was used
- Name and address of the applicator/supervisor
- Name and address of the person for whom the application was carried out
- The wind speed and direction at the time of application**
- The date the baiting period began***
- The date the baiting period ended***
* Not required when using poison baits for pest animal control.
** only required when a product is being sprayed outdoors (excludes hand-held devices that are operated manually e.g. knapsacks).
*** Only required when using poison baits for pest animal control.
Records may be kept in a format that suits your individual business (e.g. hand written, on computer). The only requirement is that they contain all of the required information, are clear, accurate and must be readily available to an Authorised Officer upon request.
A sample record keeping template available from the depaertment.
Agricultural Chemical Control Areas (ACCAs)
Nine Agricultural Chemical Control Areas (ACCAs) have been established in Victoria to protect herbicide sensitive areas 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.
Information on the ACCA restrictions and permits is available from the Chemical use page under Agricultural Chemical Control Areas.
Spray drift is the most common cause of off-target agricultural chemical movement.
In Victoria, it is an offence to undertake agricultural spraying that:
- 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.
Notification when spraying near sensitive areas
Notification laws apply when applying agricultural chemicals by aerial spraying or mister within 200 metres of a school, hospital, aged care service, or children's service (e.g. kindergarten or child care centre).
At the time you are contracted to carry out agricultural spraying, the land manager must provide you with written advice of whether any of these facilities are within 200 metres of the land to be sprayed, and details relating to their location.
You must not begin spraying without this information.
At least 24 hours before spraying is to occur within 200 metres of these facilities, you 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.
The land manager is then responsible for notifying the facility of the proposed spraying.
Aerial spraying equipment
Under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Regulations 2007, one or more of the following methods must be used immediately before and during aerial spraying to provide the pilot with an accurate indication of the weather conditions at the target area:
- a smoke generating device used at ground level at or near the point of spraying
- the aircraft is fitted with a smoke generating device that is operating
- a windsock is operating and is clearly visible to the pilot at ground level at or near the point of spraying, or
- an automatic weather station is located at or near the point of spraying, and information about the wind speed and direction is available to the pilot.