4 Nov 2010

Ban of 2,4-D may be needed in the end - wine industry

1:21 pm on 4 November 2010

Members of the wine industry say a ban of the hormone-based weedkiller 2,4-D could be the only way to stop more cases of grape vines being damaged by spray drift.

In Hawkes Bay, Brian Howard, from Howard Vineyard at Bay View, says at least six hectares of his crop and his neighbour's has been wiped out after 2,4-D drifted over his property in late September.

No-one yet knows where the spray came from, but the Hawke's Bay Regional Council is investigating.

The herbicide is a synthetic plant hormone used to control weeds - and makes up almost 7% of total pesticide use in New Zealand.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority says 2,4-D is on its reassessment list.

Mr Howard wants to see something done to protect growers, as the same problem could arise next season.

New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan says his organisation hears of incidents like this up to six times a year.

He says the problem isn't the spray - but how it is being used, and someone is showing a lack of commonsense, with devastating consequences.

Mr Gregan says there may come a point where the only way to prevent such damage is to ban the chemical, or put in place an incredibly strict regime.

Agrichemical body condemns spray drift incident

The organisation representing agricultural chemical companies has condemned the incident.

AGCARM chief executive Graeme Peters says if spray drift is confirmed as the culprit, it's likely that whoever applied the chemical has not complied with industry standards that contractors and others using sprays are required to follow.

Mr Peters says the agri-chemical industry's Growsafe training programme has been running for 20 years and commercial applicators are also aware of the techniques for minimising spray drift.

He says the Government science funding agency, FORST, has also commissioned a $5 million research programme to reduce the off-target exposure to pesticides.