Spray drift

Spray drift management


The possibility of off-target spray drift accompanying the application of pesticides is a concern both to the community and the agricultural industry, for whom it is a constant challenge to find ways to minimise it more effectively. The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is responsible for ensuring that off-target pesticide spray drift does not harm human health, the environment or Australia’s international trade.

From 2010 to 2019 the APVMA implemented a policy known as the Operating Principles in Relation to Spray Drift Risk. This policy had some limitations, including a lack of flexibility and ability to adopt newer systems/technologies to reduce the risk of spray drift. The risk assessments supporting the approval of pesticide products was based on worst case scenarios and provided little incentive for spray applicators to adopt best practice, new technology and/or operations that will limit spray drift.

In 2019, the APVMA implemented a new spray drift regulatory approach. The main advantages of this approach are the introduction of scientifically justifiable deposit curves, clearer guidelines on the regulatory acceptable limits (RAL) use to establish buffer zones, simplified and consistent label statements, quicker assessment by APVMA, increased flexibility for end users and encourage drift reducing technology (DRT).

Guidance is now available advising how the APVMA will update product labels in line with the spray drift policy and to applicants wishing to update spray drift instructions, apply for a new spray drift risk assessment or apply for consideration of new Drift Reduction Technology (DRT). These guidelines have been implemented on 26 October 2020.

Documents and files

The following documents and files all form part of the spray drift management approach.

Overview of the spray drift management approach

The document Guidelines for applications to update spray drift instructions, update the spray drift risk assessment and recognise new drift reduction technology provides advice to applicants on how to make applications and the assessment modules, fees and timeframes that would apply.

Applicants may continue to submit relevant information packages to allow the regulatory acceptable levels (RAL) to be determined. The method used to determine the RAL is described in chapter 3 of the SDRAM. Applicants may also request RALs for existing products via the PAA process.

Standard deposition curves (outlined in chapter 4 of the SDRAM and scenario files) will be used to determine buffer zones based on realistic worst case scenarios. Applicants will also have an option to provide information to determine custom deposition curves. The SDDG describe how spray drift information and data may be generated and submitted.

The approved RAL and deposition curve would be entered into the SDRAT that is described in chapter 6 of the SDRAM. The SDRAT contains approved label instructions (chapter 5 of the SDRAM) and will be used to generate the label instructions, including buffer zones and spray drift restraints.

The SDMT will be used by the APVMA to include buffer zones, relevant to the use of DRTs, on labels or permits as described in chapter 7. When state legislation can support it, users may in the future be able to recalculate buffer zones according to their individual circumstances including such factors as their spray equipment, application rate, weather conditions etc. (stage 2).

Spray Drift Risk Assessment Manual (SDRAM)

If you are preparing an application and require assistance to determine what information you may need to include with your application, it may be addressed through a pre-application assistance application.

Reporting spray drift incidents

State and territory governments are responsible for addressing incidents of off-target spray drift. The following information will help you identify the process for reporting a spray drift incident in your state or territory:

General chemical use information

Many industry representative groups and state and territory governments produce general guidance for applying agricultural chemical products safely. These can be used for reference, but are not necessarily reflective of mandatory legal requirements unless specifically stated.

Industry representative groups

State and territory governments


Gary Dorr
Senior Risk Manager
Phone: +61 2 6770 2326


Hugh Dawick
Director, Pesticides
Phone: +61 2 6770 2396

Email: spraydrift@apvma.gov.au

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