Timber industry defends spraying

10 Jan, 2001 03:02 PM
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THE issue of spray drift is industry-wide and safety concerns therefore should not be viewed in isolation, as is currently the case with the blue gum industry. This is the firm conviction of the general manager of plantation investment company Timbercorp, Tim Browning, who says that spray drift occurs when farmers are boom-spraying and misting, as well as during aerial application of chemicals. He was responding to the possibility that the State Government might ban all aerial spraying of pesticides on blue gum plantations If aerial spraying was banned for blue gums, it had to be banned for everyone, as sprays similar to those used on the trees were used for potatoes, carrots, canola and other agricultural products, Mr Browning said. ³Orchardists and cereal growers and all other farming groups using agricultural chemicals need to be part of any study into spray drift,² he said ³Our chemicals are used by everyone in the rural industry.² Mr Browning also pointed out that shires sprayed sports ovals with chemicals to kill beetles, and then school kids played on the surfaces. Another issue was the recent aerial spraying of locusts. He said thousands of litres of chemicals to control locusts over a large part of WA had been authorised by Primary Industry Minister Monty House. Mr Browning claimed that neat chemicals and nozzles to maximise drift had been used and raised doubts regarding the buffer zones established during the locust spraying. ³I don¹t believe there were any buffer zones when it came to protecting beef and sheep pasture. There may have been the occasional buffer zone around towns,² he said. The blue gum plantation industry also was confused by Mr House¹s call on the industry to resolve concerns about aerial spraying in the South West. ³We have complied to the letter with the minister¹s own Code of Practice for the Use of Agricultural Chemicals in WA, which was issued in September 2000,² Mr Browning said. ³We believe the industry is at the cutting edge in observing the code, and in fact we have recently ‹ before the current spraying season ‹ incorporated that code into the timber industry¹s own code of practice following consultation with Agwest officers.² Farm Weekly contacted Lindsay Gillam, the Health Department¹s manager of pesticide safety section, with regard to health issues and aerial blue gum spraying. ³We have been called in to assess if the spraying is a hazard to health and our issue is that aerial spraying is carried out in a safe manner,² Mr Gillam said. ³We need medical or scientific evidence of sprays affecting health. If people feel they have been affected, we are suggesting they contact their shire council. We will pay for the cost of sampling, of water in their tanks, for example.² Mr Gillam will review the situation in the Great Southern later this month. ÿ

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