Pesticides including herbicides, fungicides and insecticides have an important role to play in agriculture and horticulture. However, if they are not used correctly these chemicals can drift and may result in harm to human health, off-target animals or plants and damage to nearby crops, communities or the environment.
To regulate the use of pesticides and reduce incidents of spray drift across the state, we use tools including education, monitoring and penalties.
We are engaging with peak industry bodies, landholders, community members and agronomists to better understand the impacts, challenges and factors leading to spray drift and how we can work together to protect our environment.
In 2023, EPA Officers conducted high-visibility compliance and education campaigns about pesticide use in agricultural regions.
The campaigns remind landholders, farmers and crop sprayers that they always need to take appropriate precautions to prevent potential impacts to their neighbours and their community when using pesticides.
The focus is on promoting good spraying practices, safe storage of pesticides, proper record-keeping and providing advice and resources to local growers on best practice spraying behaviours.
Our message is that everyone using pesticides has both a legal and moral obligation to avoid spray drift.
From May-October 2023, EPA representatives attended agricultural field days in Mudgee, the Riverina, Gunnedah, Henty and Borenore to engage with farmers, landholders and other stakeholders on pesticide use and preventing spray drift.
Over summer, the EPA is carrying out several targeted pesticide compliance and education campaigns for broadacre pesticide users in Moree and Walgett in the Northern Slopes, as well as targeting intensive horticulture in the Woolgoolga region near Coffs Harbour and Tintenbar in the Ballina Shire.
Outcomes from these campaigns are expected in 2024.
Macquarie Valley monitoring program
The areas visited include the Macquarie Valley (Narromine and Warren), the Northwest Slopes (Narrabri, Moree Plains and Walgett) and regions in Southwest NSW (Carrathool, Griffith, Murrumbidgee and Leeton).
Woolgoolga compliance inspections
We inspected 40 horticultural operations in the Woolgoolga area during 2021 – 23.
The EPA regulates the use of pesticides in NSW from the point of sale onwards, so is responsible for investigating pesticide misuse. EPA investigations assess
- reported or detected incidents of alleged environmental harm
- other breaches of the legislation that could harm human health or the health of companion animals
During an investigation, EPA-authorised officers gather
- evidence of the incident to establish whether an offence has occurred
- if there has been an offence, investigate its severity
- identify those responsible for the offence by taking videos, photographs, collecting samples and recording witness statements and interviews