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.
The APVMA therefore began a project in 2013 to develop a new spray drift regulatory approach that will enable users to potentially reduce buffer zones. Two rounds of public consultation were undertaken on the new APVMA approach to spray drift management. This policy was implemented on 19 July 2019.
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.
- Guidelines for updating spray drift instructions on labels when a full spray drift risk assessment has not been undertaken: explains how the APVMA will update the spray drift instructions on labels for ongoing product applications
- 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 such applications and the assessment modules, fees and timeframes that would apply
- Spray drift risk operating principles: describes the methods and scientific principles the APVMA uses to assess and manage spray drift issues
- Spray drift risk assessment manual (SDRAM): overarching document that describes the spray drift approach and its elements
- Labelling requirements: from the Agricultural Labelling Code (these replicate the requirements set out in the SDRAM)
- Definitions: for terms used on the product label
- Spray drift risk assessment tool (SDRAT): used by the APVMA to conduct a risk assessment of the realistic worst-case scenario for the use of each product to generate buffers for different sensitive areas. The tool will generate the wording to appear on the product label. The tool will also be available to applicants to conduct self-assessments prior to submitting an application
- Spray drift management tool (SDMT): used by the APVMA for assessing DRTs
- Spray drift data guidelines (SDDG): describes how information and data related to spray drift management (spray drift data) may be generated and submitted
- Standard scenarios: AGDISP input files used for realistic worst case scenarios for boom sprayer, fixed wing and helicopter. Output from these scenarios is used in the SDRAT
- Droplet size distributions (DSD): standard APVMA spectra used to determine boundaries for Fine, Medium, Coarse, Very Coarse, Extremely Coarse and Ultra Coarse droplet size classifications. These can be imported into AGDISP
- DSD converter: ensures that droplet size distributions from different testing facilities can be compared and be consistent relative to the APVMA DSD
- Spray drift factsheet: July 2019 edition.
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).
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:
- Australian Capital Territory – Contact the Environment Protection Authority by calling Canberra Connect on 13 22 81
- New South Wales – Refer to the How to respond to pesticide misuse web page and call the environment line on 131 555, or email email@example.com
- Northern Territory – Refer to the NTWorkSafe Chemical Spray Drift bulletin or call the pollution response line on 1800 064 567
- Queensland – Refer to the Reporting chemical spray drift web page
- South Australia – Refer to the Chemical misuse (including spray drift) web page and call the biosecurity SA agricultural and veterinary chemicals hotline on 1300 799 684 or email PIRSA.RuralChemicals@sa.gov.au
- Tasmania – Refer to the Spray Drift and Reporting Incidents web page
- Victoria – Refer to the Reporting spray drift of agricultural chemicals web page
- Western Australia – Refer to various documents on the Guides on pesticide use for industry and local government.
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
- Grains Research and Development Corporation—Refer to the Practical tips for spraying factsheet
- National Working Party on Pesticide Applications (NWPPA)—Refer to the NWPPA website.
State and territory governments
- Australian Capital Territory – Refer to various documents on the Pest and weed control web page
- New South Wales – Refer to various documents on the Pesticides web page and watch the safe use of pesticides video
- Northern Territory – Refer to various documents on the Chemical services web page
- Queensland – Refer to the Guidelines for safe use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals web page
- South Australia – Refer to various documents on the Biosecurity SA: rural chemicals web page
- Tasmania – Refer to the relevant code of practice
- Victoria – Refer to the A guide to using agricultural chemicals in Victoria web page and watch the chemical use videos
- Western Australia – Refer to the document A guide to the use of pesticides in Western Australia.
Senior Risk Manager
Phone: +61 2 6770 2326
Phone: +61 2 6770 2396