Chemical Industry News No. 73 Summer - Autumn 2012
- Water quality is critical for spraying
- Peter picked a peck of peppers...
- Check out our chemical use videos
- APVMA explains pesticide chemical labels
- 1080 use – notify your neighbours
- Using 1080... follow the directions for use!
- Chemical use in protected cropping situations
- Combat the risk of spray drift
- Check before treating major species off-label
- Fumigating grain in transit using phosphine
Be aware of myrtle rust
Andrew Henderson, Communications Officer
The destructive plant disease myrtle rust, recently found in Victoria for the first time, poses a threat to Victoria's nursery, forestry and beekeeping industries, as well as to public parks and gardens, home gardens and native forests.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has now detected myrtle rust at many sites in Victoria, mainly at production nurseries and wholesale outlets in and around metropolitan Melbourne.
To date, the disease has been found on ten different Myrtaceae species in Victoria, however, all species of this family are potential hosts of the disease.
Most of these detections resulted from DPI tracing the movement of myrtle rust host material from infected premises. DPI is taking action to ensure affected nurseries correctly deal with the infected material. This involves safe disposal, or treatment and reinspection, of the infected material and treatment of all Myrtaceae plants in the nursery before release.
The use of fungicides is one of several options available to treat confirmed myrtle rust infections. The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has issued permits that allow certain fungicides to be used to:
- control myrtle rust on nursery stock (non-food) and cut flowers/foliage - Permit PER12156
- control myrtle rust on certain food-bearing crops - Permit PER12746
- control myrtle rust in ornamental and non-fruit bearing Myrtaceae in home gardens - Permit PER12828
- decontaminate infected myrtle rust host plant material before disposal - Permit PER12319
- enable myrtle rust host plant materials to be moved from an infected area or state - Permit PER12318.
Before using any of these fungicides, you must read and follow the permit conditions and product label instructions relating to the directions for use, rate of application and critical use instructions that may apply.
Check www.apvma.gov.au regularly to keep up to date with available permits.
Images of myrtle rust symptoms, along with other myrtle rust information, can be found on the DPI website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/myrtlerust.
If you think you have found myrtle rust, please telephone DPI on 1800 084 881 or take digital photos of the suspect material and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org together with a contact phone number.
To avoid spreading the disease:
- do not touch, move or collect samples of the suspect plant material
- do not go to another site with any host materials.
Water quality is critical for spraying
Alan Roberts, Program Manager, Chemical Standards Field Services
You can get a bit blasé about water because we deal with it every day, but water quality for spraying ag chemicals can have a huge impact on the job you end up with, so it pays to take care with it.
Most of us would look at turbid water (water containing suspended solids) and know that it might impact on the chemicals we are using, but what about apparently clear water that has dissolved salts in it - if it looks clear then it must be OK, mustn't it? The answer to that question is maybe not, because dissolved salts can have a significant impact on water hardness and water pH, and both of these can have a significant impact on the chemical or spraying efficacy.
Most chemical users would be aware of the impact of turbid water on some ag chemicals, and glyphosate products in particular. Glyphosate can quickly bind to the small particles in turbid water, making it unavailable and reducing efficacy.
Calcium and magnesium salts in water can make it 'hard' - that is 'hard' to get soap and detergents to make suds. The salts in hard water can impact on ag chemicals too, and in some situations, the chemicals you want to apply can precipitate out of solution in the spray tank. Note that some water supplies can be treated to reduce the 'hardness' and make them more suitable for spraying.
The pH of water can have the most significant impact on ag chemicals. The pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity, with the pH scale ranging from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral, a pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH greater than 7 is alkaline.
Water that is highly alkaline has potentially the biggest impact on ag chemicals through a process called alkaline hydrolysis, which causes the chemical to decompose. For example, if you mix organophosphate insecticides with alkaline water at pH9, most will decompose to some extent, and some will lose half their active ingredient through alkaline hydrolysis in less than an hour. Many other ag chemicals including insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, biologicals and growth regulators are decomposed to a greater or lesser extent by alkaline hydrolysis.
Small, relatively cheap instruments are available that can be used on-farm for measuring salts and water pH, and these are a good investment where spraying water supplies are variable in quality, but if you have any doubts about the quality of the water you want to use for spraying talk to your agronomist, chemical reseller or chemical manufacturer.
Peter picked a peck of peppers...
Maresa Heath, Project Officer, Plant Residues
...but was it a representative sample? As compliance with maximum residue limits (MRLs) is becoming more critical to maintaining market access for Australian produce, it's good practice to have your produce tested for residues.
One of the most important stages of residue testing occurs before the produce even reaches the laboratory - sampling.
Ensuring you take a representative sample of your produce for testing is the only way you can be confident that the residue results obtained reflect the crop, paddock or product lot tested.
While sampling methods vary for different crop types, there are some general rules for sampling fruit, vegetables and grains, including:
- separate samples should be taken for each produce type or for different chemical treatments on the same produce type you want tested
- keep fresh produce cool, but do not freeze (unless already frozen)
- individual fruits and vegetables should not be cut or divided.
Here are some simple steps you can take to ensure your sample is as representative as possible:
- sample the parts of the crop that normally constitute the marketable produce
- don't sample diseased or under-sized crop parts
- follow typical harvesting practices
- don't remove surface residues during handling, packing or preparation
- collect and bag samples in the field and do not sub-sample
- keep records of the samples taken and the collection method used
- take duplicate samples for a better estimate of the residue status of the crop.
Once you have collected your samples, store them appropriately and away from any chemicals that could potentially contaminate them. Individual samples should be well packaged, so there is no possibility of sample leakage or cross-contamination (large zip-lock polyethylene bags or foil-lined paper bags are suitable). Samples must be well labelled, with no possibility of labels becoming separated from the sample or damaged by moisture.
When submitting samples to a laboratory for analysis, ensure the laboratory analyses for all agricultural chemicals applied to the crop during the growing season, as this will ensure their report verifies the presence or absence of residues resulting from all chemicals used on the crop.
For more information on sampling, refer to the publication Sampling soil, vegetables, fruit and grain for residue testing, available from the DEPI Chemical Use website, www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/chemicaluse.
Check out our chemical use videos
A reminder for readers to check out our two chemical use videos, Spray risk management and Boom sprayer management – available on the DEPI Chemical use website, www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/chemicaluse.
These videos feature chemical use experts, Alan Roberts, DEPI Program Manager, Chemical Standards Field Services and Craig Day from Spray Safe and Save, who discuss ways to manage and mitigate spray drift, and how to achieve the best from spray jobs.
Spray risk management looks at the main factors involved in spray risk management and mitigation, while Boom sprayer management examines the changing face of boom spray technology, discusses how to prepare for a successful job and provides tips to manage and mitigate spray drift.
APVMA explains pesticide chemical labels
Pesticide chemical labels contain important information about how to safely use products in accordance with legal requirements.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has developed educational materials to help chemical users identify and understand the warnings and instructions on pesticide chemical labels.
Two new resources are now available on the APVMA website, www.apvma.gov.au; a poster and booklet about understanding pesticide chemical labels.
The A3 poster can be used in the workplace and in training situations to clearly identify the different components of pesticide chemical labels.
The booklet, Understanding pesticide chemical labels can be used stand-alone or with the poster to provide a basic explanation of what the label components mean. Designed for farmers, market gardeners and home pesticide users, the booklet is available in both English and Vietnamese translations. It explains the range of warnings and instructions on pesticide chemical labels so that users know what to look for and can safely use the product in accordance with legal requirements.
The Vietnamese translation is the first multilingual edition of the booklet and Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic and Khmer language versions will also be available shortly to assist growers from non-English speaking backgrounds and trainers in this area.
The new resources have been developed in consultation with trainers in the pesticide chemicals industry and reflect the APVMA's objective to assist people to use products correctly.
Any comments about the current poster and booklet or ideas for future editions can be sent by email to the APVMA at email@example.com.
1080 use – notify your neighbours
Steven Field, Senior Chemical Standards Officer and Alex Fahy, Chemical Standards Officer
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is investigating a series of complaints relating to the lack of neighbour notification by people using 1080. In some circumstances, neighbours only became aware of nearby baiting when they were walking their dogs past baited properties.
Notifying your neighbours of your intention to use 1080 baits is a legal requirement and a critical step in managing the safe use of this poison. By notifying your neighbours, you share with them responsibility for managing risks by placing an emphasis on them to act on the warnings outlined in the notification. For example, neighbours may choose to muzzle their pets and/or restrain them from wandering unaccompanied.
The definition of adjoining neighbour contained in the Directions for the Use of 1080 Pest Animal Bait Products in Victoria is 'land that borders, connects with or directly faces, land on which poison baits are to be used, whether or not there is a road, a public utility or public land less than 100 metres wide between those lands and the lands on which baits are to be laid'.
It is a condition of your 1080 endorsed Agricultural Chemical User Permit (ACUP) that you comply with DPI's Directions for Use, including the notification requirements. Failure to comply with these requirements can lead to fines in excess of $24,000 and the suspension or cancellation of your 1080 endorsed ACUP.
In which of these situations must you notify your neighbours?
You plan to lay baits along a fenceline that you share with a neighbour. Do you need to notify your neighbour? YES! As their land directly borders yours you must notify them of your intent to lay 1080 baits.
You have a paddock next to a creek that divides your property from your neighbours. You plan to lay baits in your paddock, and the creek (including crown land frontage) is 80 metres wide. Do you need to notify your neighbour? YES! You must notify owners of land within 100 metres of the land to be baited, regardless of any public land (the creek) between the properties.
You share a fenceline with one neighbour whose property is only 75 metres wide. A second neighbour is the other side of your neighbour and is therefore within 100 metres of your property. Do you need to notify both neighbours? NO! You technically only need to notify your immediate (adjacent) neighbour as the land between you and the second neighbour is privately owned. However it is good risk management to notify the other neighbour.
Your boundary fenceline is separated from your neighbour's property by a three-chain-road. Do you need to notify your neighbour? YES! A three chain road is approximately 60 metres wide, therefore your neighbour's property is still within 100 metres of the area you intend to bait and must be notified.
Using 1080... follow the directions for use
Ben Roddy, Legislation and Policy Officer
Pest animal baits containing 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) are an important tool for Victoria's land managers to control rabbits, foxes, wild dogs and feral pigs.
It's critical to use these baits correctly to reduce risk to non-target animals, the environment, the applicator and the general public. This is why 1080 use in Victoria is only permitted by appropriately trained and authorised people who must strictly follow the Directions for the Use of 1080 Pest Animal Bait Products in Victoria.
The Directions for the Use of 1080 Pest Animal Bait Products in Victoria place controls over the use of 1080 to manage the risk associated with use and the 1080 training course teaches people about these controls. Use requirements detailed in the 1080 direction for use include:
- completing a risk assessment
- completing a bait user declaration
- neighbour notification
- distance restrictions
- bait laying and disposal
- bait and carcass recovery
- record keeping.
These requirements are in place to support the appropriate use of 1080 to ensure vertebrate pest animal control options are available into the future. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in the cancellation or suspension of your authorisation, and/or fines or prosecution.
Should you need to report the misuse of 1080, contact your local Chemical Standards Officer (see back cover for contact details) or the DPI Customer Service Centre on 136 186.
For information on the use of 1080, including an online version of the Directions for the use of 1080 pest animal baits in Victoria, visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/1080.
Chemical use in protected cropping situations
Jonathan Fahey, Biosecurity Coordinator – Grains/Vegetables
Protected cropping is the term used to encompass crops growing under protective structures such as glasshouses, greenhouses and polytunnels.
In these structures, environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, atmospheric gas concentrations, UV light levels and air flow/ventilation, occupational health and safety (OH&S) and residue risks can vary greatly compared to outdoor cropping situations.
To mitigate these risks, some agricultural chemicals are prohibited from use in protected cropping environments. Products prohibited for use in protected cropping situations, such a methomyl and some imidaclorprid products, carry a prohibitive label statement such as 'DO NOT use on crops produced hydroponically or in glasshouse and other covered situations' or 'DO NOT use in covered or protected situations such as glasshouses, greenhouses or plastic tunnels'.
When applying agricultural chemicals in protected cropping situations (or in any environment), it's critical for users to also observe re-entry periods, follow the safety directions and use the personal protective equipment stated on product labels to minimise OH&S risks. The re-entry period is important, being the minimum period of time that must elapse after the application of an agricultural chemical and re-entry of people to the treated area. This period is put in place to protect workers from exposure to harmful chemicals.
When looking for a chemical to use in protected cropping environments, speak to your local reseller for advice on which products best suit your operation.
Combat the risk of spray drift
David Rumbold, Senior Chemical Standards Officer
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is again urging grain farmers to be vigilant to protect neighbouring crops from spray drift to have a safe and successful cropping season.
There have been several reports in the past year of instances where broadleaf herbicides used in cereal crops have caused spray drift damage and/or contamination to neighbouring oilseed, legume or horticultural crops.
Last season, the Mallee sowed a record level of canola and an equally large area of legumes as a result of the high subsoil moisture levels. This means the potential for spray drift issues are particularly high. Grass selective herbicides used in canola and legume crops may equally cause issues in neighbouring cereal crops. Insecticide or fungicide use in horticultural crops can also cause contamination issues in grain crops.
The good news for farmers is that spray drift is something that they can directly manage.
The Australian and Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is currently reviewing labels to include more information about how to manage spray drift for each specific product, but generally the following factors must be considered for ground-based spraying:
Planning is the most essential part of any successful spraying activity: Identifying neighbouring crops that are sensitive to the products you are using and planning to manage this risk is vital. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and several chemical product manufacturers now have forecasting tools available which help plan when to spray several days in advance. These tools should only be viewed as indications; it's the weather conditions at the site and time of spraying that are ultimately important.
Don't spray if there is an inversion layer present: Generally you can expect an inversion to be present nearly every night between sunset and an hour or two after sunrise. The APVMA has produced an excellent fact sheet on inversion layers that can be found at www.apvma.gov.au/spraydrift.
Only spray in a steady wind of 3-15 km/h: The dangers of spraying in high wind conditions are obvious, however some wind is needed to ensure droplets reach the target area. Spraying in still conditions (typical of an inversion layer) is extremely risky as it can result in droplets being trapped in the atmosphere and drifting off-target as the inversion moves or breaks. Some product labels now allow for a wind speed of up to 20 km/h, but 15 km/h is recommended by BoM if there is no specific label requirement.
Spray with a Delta T between 2 - 8: Delta T refers to the relationship between temperature and relative humidity. During cooler months, a Delta T below two is the greatest concern. It indicates the atmosphere is cold and humid, so very fine droplets can survive for a long time suspended in the atmosphere, increasing the potential for off-target movement. During warmer months, a Delta T above eight is of concern because spray droplets may dry out in the atmosphere, which decreases efficacy and increases the risk of off-target movement.
Select the largest droplet size possible to provide effective control: Be prepared to use modern style nozzles, such as air induction with a coarse or larger droplet size, and increase your water rate if efficacy is a concern. Refer to product labels, agronomists, chemical resellers, chemical manufacturers, and nozzle manufacturers for information on droplet size selection.
Set up your equipment appropriately: For standard 110° nozzles, your boom spacing should be 50 cm and the boom height should be 50 cm from the target. The further a droplet has to fall, the more influence wind can have and the greater the potential for off-target movement.
Set appropriate down wind no-spray buffer zones: Most farmers protect sensitive crops by only spraying when the wind is blowing away from them. To provide guidance for when this is not possible, the APVMA has released proposed label changes for ground spraying of 2,4-D and MCPA products. These changes mean that these products can only be used when the factors above are observed and when a down-wind, no-spray buffer zone is observed from sensitive vegetation of up to 300 m for 2,4-D products, and up to 200 m for MCPA products.
Taking all of these factors into account, not just droplet size and maximum wind speed, will help ensure Victoria has a safe and successful 2012 cropping season.
Check before treating major species off-label
Dr George Downing, Principal Veterinary Officer
Unacceptable chemical residues in major livestock species (i.e. pigs, domestic chickens, cattle and sheep) are a real concern for Australian producers exporting meat and meat products. Australian exported meat and meat products must meet maximum residue limits (MRLs) for importing countries to maintain market access.
Chemical residues in livestock can result from treating live animals with veterinary medicines off-label. All livestock sold for slaughter have the potential to be exported. Therefore, it's essential to avoid off-label treatment and to follow withholding periods (WHPs) before sending animals to slaughter.
Withholding periods are critical to managing residues. To ensure on-label use does not cause residues, manufacturers run residue trials prior to applying for registration of a product, to determine how rapidly the product and its metabolites are excreted from the body. This information is used by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to set an appropriate WHP, which is then detailed on the product label for users to follow when treating the species for which the drug is registered.
Many veterinary medicines used to treat major livestock species, such as worm drenches, can be purchased from chemical resellers. By law, farmers treating major species with an 'over-the-counter' product must use a product that is approved for the intended purpose, or obtain written authorisation from a veterinary practitioner to use the product off-label. Off-label use includes using a product at a higher rate or more frequently than stated on the label, or using it in another species for which it is not approved. The veterinary practitioner will provide an appropriate WHP to ensure that there are no significant chemical residues when the animal is slaughtered.
Let's consider an example of illegal off-label use. A farmer uses a sheep drench on domestic chickens. In this instance, following the label WHP provided for sheep may not be appropriate for domestic chickens because the drug is likely to be metabolised and excreted from the body at a different rate. If this rate is slower than for the registered species, unacceptable residues of the drug may remain in the meat at slaughter.
Chemical residues in meat and meat products can lead to loss of export markets which are extremely important to the Australian economy. Before using a veterinary medicine off-label to treat major species, speak to your veterinary practitioner as they will be able to advise you of a suitable treatment plan and minimise the risk of residues occurring.
Fumigating grain in transit using phosphine
Jonathan Fahey, Biosecurity Coordinator – Grains/Vegetables
With the delivery of grain from the 2011-12 harvest now completed, transporters, growers and handling staff are reminded that the fumigation of grain in transit using aluminium phosphide (phopshine) is illegal.
Under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical (Control of Use) Act 1992, a person found undertaking this activity can be fined up to $24,428 or $48,856 in the case of corporations.
Phosphine products are Schedule 7 Dangerous Poisons and if inhaled, the gas can react with moisture in the lungs to form phosphoric gas, which can cause serious illness or even death. Due to this high toxicity, phosphine fumigation during transit poses significant health risks to truck drivers, grain handlers and members of the public. Such use also poses significant market access risks due to potential for excessive residues.
Phosphine product labels clearly prohibit the use of the fumigant in road transport vehicles (including a truck or road hauled container) and movement of treated grain prior to completion of a ventilation period. Despite these label restraints and industry notification such as the GrainCorp Phosphine Bulletin June 2010, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) believes the practice may still be occurring and is prepared to take enforcement action against individuals and/or corporations found undertaking these activities.
DPI also advises individuals fumigating grain that they do not own, to obtain and keep written permission to treat grain on behalf of the owner. Under Section 21 of the Act, it is illegal for individuals and corporations to apply agricultural chemicals (including fumigants) to commodities that they do not own or without the written permission of the owner. Persons found guilty of such actions may be fined up to $12,214 or $24,428 in the case of corporations.
DEPI Chemical Standards
Visit www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/chemicalstandards for more information about:
- Rules and regulations on the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Victoria
- Licence and permit application forms
- Agricultural Chemical Control Areas
- Previous issues of CIN
DPI Chemical Standards contacts
03 5430 4416, 0419 505 485
03 5430 4806, 0428 564 267
03 5824 5532, 0407 258 433
03 5355 0522, 0439 206 561
03 9785 0191, 0427 277 470
03 5336 6616, 0400 827 596
03 5833 5234, 0438 072 465
Chemical Industry News
Editor: Deann Chy
Phone: 03 9217 4391
Fax: 03 9217 4331