Big differences on chem use rules from state to state

Grain Producers Australia (GPA) chairman Andrew Weidemann says his organisation has applied for an emergency use permit to use glyphosate to crop-top barley.
Nanjing Night Net

RELATED: Stoush over glyphosate use inbarley.

THERE are different interpretations of chemical application rules across the different states in Australia, meaning widely differing attitudes to off-label use of herbicides.

This creates a confusing situation for the farming sector where something that is not illegal in Victoria can be an offence in NSW.

In the case of the use of glyphosate as a crop topped desiccant on barley, Steve Field, farm chemicals specialist with Agriculture Victoria, said currently in Victoria it was allowable to crop-top feed barley but not malt barley.

It is the only state where such a practice is permissible due to its stance on the off-label usage of farm chemicals.

“There are different rules for different chemicals, with more restrictions surrounding products deemed more dangerous to use, such as paraquat, which is also used as a crop desiccant on some crops,” Mr Field said.

“These ‘restricted use chemicals’ must not be used off-label in any circumstances,” he said.

However, he said as a non-restricted chemical, glyphosate could be used off-label in Victoria.

“Off-label use is defined as when a registered chemical is used in a manner that is not specified on the product label,” Mr Field said.

“In this case it means that unless it specifically states otherwise, glyphosate can be put on off-label late in the season.”

“The labels for the different formulations of glyphosate say not to use the product on crops to be used for seed or sprouting, which incorporates malt barley that needs to be germinated to be used for malt.”

“This is a specific instruction when not to use the product and is why it can be used on feed barley and not malt barley.”

“Off-label use is not recommended by the department and is not included within a manufacturer’s warranty, however it is permissible.”

Mr Field said farmers considering off-label use had to consider the agronomic and commercial risks associated with the use.

“It’s like a dirt road being signed as having a 100kph speed limit, in the wet conditions you may be allowed to do 100kph but you wouldn’t do it because it is too risky. It’s the same story here, you shouldn’t just do something because you are allowed to, you have to consider the risk.”

“There are export and domestic markets emerging suggesting they want no trace of glyphosate on their product and in the end farmers need to listen to market signals.”

However, it is a different story in NSW, where there either needs to be explicit instruction on the herbicide label for use in the manner intended or an emergency or minor use permit issued by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for the use of a farm chemical to be legal.

Grain Producers Australia (GPA) chairman Andrew Weidemann said his organisation had applied to the APVMA for an emergency permit for glyphosate to be used as a desiccant in barley to give all growers across the country the option this season.

“It is going to be a difficult harvest with wet conditions leading to uneven ripening and regrowth and growers are saying they want this option to manage their crops.”

“This permit would create clarity across the country for this year.”

Mr Field said farmers considering off-label use had to consider the agronomic and commercial risks associated with the use.

“It’s like a dirt road being signed as having a 100kph speed limit, in the wet conditions you may be allowed to do 100kph but you wouldn’t do it because it is too risky. It’s the same story here, you shouldn’t just do something because you are allowed to, you have to consider the risk.”

“There are export and domestic markets emerging suggesting they want no trace of glyphosate on their product and in the end farmers need to listen to market signals.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.