South Australian cereal and grain producers in the Mid North will have a new tool at their disposal by this summer. It will assist with their summer weed control programs and help avoid spray drift.
According to a recent press release, Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone explained that the new AU$ 1.4 million Mid North Mesonet system will be a boon to producers planning any spraying operations.
Mid North Mesonet system
The new system features 40 state-of-the-art, localised automatic weather stations across the Mid North region.
Managed by Ag Excellence Alliance, the Mid North Mesonet system allows producers to learn pertinent information through their mobile phones and computers.
They will be able to assess more applicable, up to date weather information, and particularly be able to identify weather inversions near their properties.
The Minister shared that these automatic weather stations are a critical investment to ensure producers have all the necessary data to make responsible informed decisions in managing their properties.
The stations will eventually link to the new network being installed in the Riverland and Murraylands.
This information can help farmers decide on critical tasks. They can avoid spraying when weather conditions indicate spray drift is likely.
Having such a tool at their disposal should not only help producers avoid spray drift incidents but also assist in meeting their legal requirements when undertaking spraying operations.
Being careless when spraying can inflict unnecessary damage to someone else’s crops and can come back to hit the hip pocket of the property owner.
Estimates put the potential loss of value of agricultural production in the Mid North, Riverland and Murraylands from spray drift at over AU$ 430 million per annum.
This is why it is imperative that the risk is addressed. By finding high tech ways to make that happen will really put South Australia at the forefront.
However, the State Government will not step back from its obligations and will pursue all reports of anyone who has either deliberately or negligently caused damage to others by not following the regulatory requirements.
If caught, offences can carry a maximum penalty of AU$ 35,000.
Consideration before planning any spraying operation is a key to avoiding any-off target spray incident. Producers are advised not to underestimate the potential distance of impact before spraying weeds.
While the Mesonet is a new and extremely valuable tool, growers will still need to measure, assess, and record the weather at the sites they are proposing to spray.
Information on avoiding spray drift and best practice chemical use, which includes the industry-endorsed Code of Practice for Summer Weed Control can be found here.