Moves under way to cut wool residues

25 Nov, 1999 12:52 AM
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VETERINARIAN Di Evans has recently started working with the state's woolgrowers to help reduce their reliance on chemical treatments for managing flies and lice on sheep. Ms Evans, based at Albany, said it was important to bring about management changes in the wool industry to reflect a tightening of environmental standards in Europe, where a significant proportion of Australian wool was scoured. There had also been an increased focus on occupational health and safety risks associated with some aspects of pesticide use for treatment of lice and blowflies. Ms Evans said a directive from the European Union in October 1999 required that all factories and plants must not discharge unacceptable levels of chemicals and other harmful products into waterways. "The majority of wool scouring plants in Europe are located on river systems and, at this stage, it is likely that the response to deal with this problem will be for buyers to source low pesticide residue wool," Ms Evans said. "A number of woolgrowers have anticipated this demand and have put in place lice and blowfly management plans to minimise, and in some cases eliminate, pesticide usage." The basic strategies involved eradicating lice together with ongoing monitoring, taking precautions to prevent reintroduction of lice, selecting sheep with greater resistance to flystrike and timing shearing to avoid the need to jet every year. "An integrated pest management approach which incorporates non-chemical methods is recommended to reduce reliance on chemical treatments to manage lice and fly problems," Ms Evans said. "The other important strategy is to minimise the potential risk of wool pesticide contact with shearers and others handling sheep and wool." Woolgrowers were advised to apply chemicals according to label directions and seek advice in relation to residues and occupational health and safety aspects. Planned activities to promote a reduction in pesticide residues included developing best practice guidelines in consultation with interested grower groups. A communications campaign would also be co-ordinated with technical updates for growers, chemical resellers and wool agents, and the provision of current information through a series of new Farmnotes and a web page. Ms Evan's position is funded by the WA Sheep Lice Research Fund.

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