The problem lies in the misuse of a herbicide spray known as Phenoxy 24D and its spray drift travelling to farms more than ten kilometres away.
It’s caused a distortion of the cotton plant, stunting its growth and photosynthesis process.
However, it seems there could be a solution: re-educating farmers on how to use herbicide sprays correctly.
Cotton Australia General Manager, Michael Murray explained that it’s the application of the spray and not the spray itself that’s doing the most harm.
“Farmers have to understand how to use the herbicide product as well as being aware of surface temperatures and weed growth,” Mr Murray says.
“This season has been a combination of many factors but it doesn’t mean it’s a battle we will stop fighting. Hopefully in the future, cotton crop growing will improve through re-education.”
Along with the cotton crops receiving damage, mung bean, tomato and grape crops have additionally spoiled due to the 24D spray drifts.
According to Darling Downs Regional Manager for Cotton Australia, Mary O’Brien, herbicide sprays could become a thing of the past.
“Because of all the subsequent damage that has arisen, there has been talk about limiting access to herbicides in the future,” Mary explains.
“I don’t believe this will help or is necessarily a good idea. It’s not about restriction at all; it’s about re-educating and identifying chemicals within the spray being used.”
A recent checklist from Cotton Australia has been established to help local farmers prepare before using herbicides.
The list below is just the beginning in re-educating and re-building cotton crops across the region.
– Read and follow the labelled instructions
– Monitor the weather conditions before, during and after spraying herbicide
– Attach a nozzle at the end of the spray to produce larger droplets
– Notify your neighbours before commencing spray
– Minimise boom height when spraying
– Ensure the spray contractors are fully trained