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TAS Country : July 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010 Tasmanian Country 13 Grain research WORD OF WARNING: Bill Gordon says farmers must carefully read labels of any sprays used on their farms. to avoid nozzle shemozzle With regulations on using agricultural sprays getting tighter all the time, Tasmanian farmers have been told the buck stops with them when it comes to spray drift. Karolin MacGregor reports. TASMANIAN producers have been told that when it comes to spraying on farms, good management is essential. This was the message from Bill Gordon, of Bill Gordon Consulting, one of the guest speakers at last week's Grains Research and Development Corpor- ation technical research update at Campbell Town. Mr Gordon said one of the most important steps before farmers even get out the straying gear is to make sure they read the labels of all the sprays. Changes to some spray labels, including 2, 4-D and MCPA, will now include mandatory statements about spray quality, wind speed and no-spray zones, which will be legally en- forceable. ''It's important to read the labels and check to make sure you know what the restrictions for that particular product are,'' Mr Gordon said. ''Even if it's a spray you use all the time, make sure you do read the labels to make sure there haven't been any changes.'' He said all farmers who have spraying done on their properties, even by contractors, must keep ac- curate records. These must include details such as the types of spray used and the amounts, the area sprayed and weather conditions. ''Good records will keep you out of more trouble than they get you into because they demonstrate due diligence and show a pattern of behaviour,'' Mr Gordon said. He said for farmers doing their own spraying, nozzle choice was a critical factor in ensuring spraying was done in an environmental- ly friendly, economical and effective way. Nozzle sizes and pres- sure can dramatically af- fect the droplet size, which can impact on how effec- tive the spray is on differ- ent plants or crops. Mr Gordon said farmers needed to consider a num- ber of factors before choos- ing which nozzles to use, including the target, prod- uct being used, regu- lations, the conditions at the time and also the ca- pacity of their spraying and pumping equipment. Maintaining the correct speed and using the opti- mum boom height during spraying is often critical to ensuring effective cover- age and to reducing the chance of spray drift. Mr Gordon said this was where selecting the right nozzle was essential. ''In most cases it prob- ably takes three sets of nozzles to cover most of the spraying jobs on your aver- age farm,'' he said. intensive problems systems because they could not rely on chemical inputs to maintain their soil fertility, health and production and still retain their organic status. Mr Bradley said these farmers were instead us- ing pasture and legumes to fix nitrogen naturally. He said crop yields in paddocks that had been under pasture and white clover for six years could be up to 30 per cent higher. ''The biggest problem is the length of the pasture phase determines how ef- fective the yield increase is,'' Mr Bradley said. He said in some ways reintroducing livestock and perennial pastures into cropping rotations was taking a step back to how farming systems were traditionally managed. ''Perennial plants have a big capacity to build soil health, and I think we need them in our system,'' Mr Bradley said. He said soil compaction was one of the biggest concerns for farmers who incorporated livestock into their intensive cropping system. ''Some compaction does happen, but you just have to get over it because the benefits of having that pas- ture phase outweighs any arguments over compac- tion,'' Mr Bradley said. He said during his Nuf- field Scholarship travels he had also seen how some farmers were using their sustainable farming prac- tices as a marketing tool, which was one area where Tasmanian producers could have distinct advan- tages. ''There is an opportunity for Tasmanian growers to diversify, produce niche crops and have a market advantage,'' Mr Bradley said. ''We're often in com- modity markets and a lot of the time we can't compete with the mainland growers on quantity, we've just not big enough.'' He said growing aware- ness among consumers about sustainability was also a factor farmers could not ignore. ''The sustainability prac- tices on our farms won't be determined by what we think is right, it's what the market wants,'' Mr Brad- ley said. He said on his own property they had already begun to change their crop- ping systems to include more pasture and peren- nial grass phases. The AJF provides rewards of up to $30,000 for information that leads to a successful prosecution or signi cant animal welfare outcome as judged by the AJF. ADVERTISEMENT Have you witnessed animal cruelty in your workplace? The Animal Justice Fund would like to hear from you. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org TO PROVIDE INFORMATION: or call: 0457 448 419 www.AnimalJusticeFund.org
August 5th 2010