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Spray drift danger to cotton crop

Following rain events, and reports of crop damage to cotton in at least one district, Cotton Australia has warned farmers across all industries to guard against the potentially disastrous effects of spray drift.

Rain has been reported in recent weeks in all cotton-growing areas of NSW and Queensland, with damage to crops from herbicide also confirmed on Queensland’s Darling Downs.
Cotton is particularly susceptible to damage from Phenoxy 2,4D herbicide, and more than 12,000ha of the total Australian cotton crop is estimated to have been damaged by off-target spray drift of the chemical last season, costing the industry more than $8.8 million.

Cotton Australia Policy Officer Sahil Prasad, says all farmers who spray fields must be vigilant against the effects of drift, particularly when using Phenoxy 2,4D herbicides.

“Cotton farmers understand that weed control is important, but so is respecting your neighbours and their ability to earn an income from the land,” Mr Prasad says.

“The correct directions for use of Phenoxy herbicide are clearly labelled on the products, and it is a legal requirement to follow them.”

“We ask all farmers, whether they are growing cotton or other crops, to be mindful of weather conditions, talk to their neighbours and prepare properly for spraying.”
Cotton Australia conducts a spray drift awareness campaign annually to educate farmers and reduce the risk of spray drift damage. The campaign includes advertisements on radio and workshops in cotton-growing areas to educate growers and other farmers about the correct ways to spray.

But Mr Prasad also urged growers to use the CottonMap service to alert their neighbours and spray contractors about the location of their cotton fields.

CottonMap – available at www.cottonmap.com.au – is a powerful tool growers can use to map the fields they have planted, which allows other farmers to avoid over-spraying and potentially damaging cotton crops.

Cotton growers have, to date, mapped more than 3450 fields totalling more than 394,000ha of cotton using the tool.

CottonMap is a collaboration between Cotton Australia, the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC), the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Nufarm Australia Limited.

Mr Prasad says farmers should use this checklist when preparing to use herbicides, particularly Phenoxy 2,4-D products:

  • Read and follow label instructions – it is a legal requirement
  • Only spray in suitable weather conditions
  • Use coarse to very coarse nozzles on your rig to ensure large, heavy droplets are applied
  • Check www.cottonmap.com.au for cotton fields that could be potentially impacted by your Phenoxy 2,4D spray
  • Notify your neighbours – spray drift can travel 10km or more
  • Ensure spray contractors are fully trained and accredited

More information on spray drift is available at the following sites: