Horticultural spraying season brings safety reminder

Farmers and growers are being reminded about the safe use of agrichemicals, ahead of the spring crop-spraying season.

The issue is under the spotlight after a Newshub report which revealed that WorkSafe is to conduct spot-testing of Northland kiwifruit orchards over the use of a toxic chemical. 

The chemical spray, known as "Hi-Cane", is legal but locals claim it's not being contained and may be leading to serious health issues. 

The Northland Regional Council told Newshub it receives around 50 complaints of agrichemical spraying each year.

Regulation GM for the Hawke's Bay Regional Council Liz Lambert said anyone working on production land should spray responsibly.

An example of spray drift.
An example of spray drift. Photo credit: Supplied

"We know that agrichemical use is essential on farms, orchards, and vineyards, and to manage lifestyle blocks," she said.

We simply ask farmers and horticulturalists to use them safely to protect the health of everyone around them and the environment," said Lambert.

Spray drift (spray that moves away from the target area due to application or weather conditions) can cause human health problems like asthma and skin rashes, and can pollute waterways.

"Our Regional Resource Management Plan encourages everyone using both organic and conventional agrichemicals to be responsible with how they use them."

This included making sure that whoever does the spraying was qualified, is using a Property Spray Plan, and had put up roadside signs to let people passing know that they're spraying.

Lambert said bad spraying practice was as much of an issue as outdoor burning during winter. 

"We want to work with farmers and horticulturalists to make sure this season runs smoothly and safely."

If people don't follow the rules it can result in enforcement action and potentially clean-up costs, and we would rather avoid the need for these."

Guidelines by the Growers Association recommend spraying only take place within certain distances of roads, parks and waterways, and the use of high screens.