EPA fine is a warning to farmers not to endanger crops and health

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is reminding farmers not to damage neighbouring crops or the environment while spraying pesticides.

EPA Regional Director North Adam Gilligan said spraying crops in the wrong conditions could cause damage to other crops on nearby farms.

The warning follows a fine being issued to a Bellata farmer for the alleged misuse of pesticides.

The fine followed complaints from another farmer about a neighbour applying pesticides using a spray boom in windy conditions on 10 September 2019. The farmer reported the spray crossed onto his property, impacting a native vegetation corridor.

The EPA’s investigation found the pesticide in the native vegetation corridor over 50 metres away and that while the spraying was taking place, the wind conditions were gusty and variable and at times blowing toward the vegetation corridor.

“Safe pesticide use relies on users spraying in appropriate weather conditions and following the label instructions,” Mr Gilligan said.

“The proper use of pesticides helps to ensure the safety of the operators, the environment and the local community.”

Mr Gilligan said the $750 fine was a reminder of the importance of being a good neighbour when applying or using pesticides.

Penalty notices are one of several tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices, directions and prosecutions.

If you are concerned about illegal pesticide use, or you have knowledge of an incident, please call the 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555.

Top tips for avoiding spray drift

  • Don’t spray in very low winds or very high winds – during the day, wind speeds between 3-15 km/hr are ideal.
  • Minimise boom height to reduce the risk of spray drift.
  • Have the right equipment – use nozzles that produce coarse or larger spray droplets.
  • Don’t drive too fast – it increases the potential for spray drift.
  • Follow label directions - including instructions that define the weather conditions that spraying can be carried out.
  • Learn to identify a surface temperature inversion - which commonly occurs from late afternoon until after sunrise, and avoid spraying when it is present to prevent spray drift. During a temperature inversion the direction and distance that pesticides can move in the air is very hard to predict.

For more information on pesticide usage in NSW, visit www.epa.nsw.gov.au/your-environment/pesticides/pesticides-nsw-overview or call the Environment Line on 131 555.