Reducing the Risk from Off Target Agri Chemical Spray

Reducing the Risk from Off Target Agri Chemical Spray

As the saying goes “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” .  As such, it is better to manage any risks activities of your neighbours pre-emptively.

Prospective Aquaculture Businesses

Your new neighbour’s activities could be a future source of a conflict to your aquaculture venture – which may be very costly. The activities of many other forms of primary production require the use of agri-chemicals as a vital part of the crop or stock management. Spray drift of these agri-chemicals (insecticide & pesticides) utilised whether they be synthetic pyrethroids such as esfenvalerate or organo-phosphates such as dimethoate can be lethal to marron and yabbies at concentrations as low as parts per billion. As Arthropods, crustaceans (marron & yabbies) are closely related to insects they are affected by these sprays in exactly the same way. Organo-phosphates can also affect fish, such as silver perch.

Please take the time to check with your local Department of Agriculture office to learn about the local agri-chemicals use pattern in the area, including flight pathways. Note that you may need to be aware of land use of practices of neighbours up to at least 5km away.

It is also important to check history and current land usage of area planned for pond construction and catchment’s of your ponds water source . This can be done by testing the water and soil for agri-chemicals residues, in particular for persistent chlorinated hydrocarbons eg. DDT and Dieldrin.

Practicing Aquaculture Businesses

Know your rights as a neighbour and the obligations of your neighbour. Your neighbour has a duty of care to ensure the safety of their employees, contractors and neighbours, the public and the environment, before, during and after agri-chemicals are used. Please read the document below:

Code of Practice for the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Western Australia (March 2005)


Contact your local shire to place your property, specific ponds and dams as a sensitive property on the shire’s registry/database. Contact neighbours to discuss the issue and potential impact. Taking the time to discuss your concerns with your neighbour, and about how to minimise the impact is time well spent.  They certainly do not want to see their expensive agri-chemicals drifting over someone else’s property.  You could initially provide a copy of the Safe Use of Pesticides video. This video is available free from the Pesticide Safety Branch, Department of Health, tel. (08) 9383 4244.

If you consider yourself and aquaculture business at high risk, it may be worth considering entering into a formal agreement with the neighbour to specify the conditions under which they may and may not apply chemicals. A Spray Drift Agreement Template is provided as a guide and should be adapted to suit your specific situation. Ensure that this agreement is signed and witnessed. Please forward a copy to the Aquaculture Council of Western Australia.

If the potential are significant, losses as such, you are still concerned about the risk OR you have a history suspected spray drift incidents on your property, you may consider undertaking the following:

  • Taking baseline samples of pond sediment, surrounding vegetation and animal tissues for the specific chemical that your neighbouring properties utilize.
  • The installation of a property weather station to enable you to record and understand the conditions in which your property may be at risk.
  • Ensure you keep good stock inventory records.

It will be critical that you are vigilant at those times of year when high risk agri-chemicals (see below for site on eco-toxicology of chemicals) are being sprayed and the meteorological conditions may result in chemical drift on to your property.

Responsive Steps – Spray Drift Incident Reporting

  • Lodge a completed incidence report form available from the Department of Health, Pesticide Safety Branch or or your local Shire office, your local Deptartment of Agriculture office. Incident report forms are available from the Department of Health, Pesticide Safety Branch, tel. (08) 9383 4244, or your local Shire office. Please ensure that the form is witnessed.
  • Lodge an Adverse Experience Report to the Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicine Authority.
    • Guidelines for the public
    • ERP Ag reporting form – Reporting of human health issues
    • AERP Ag Reporting form – Reporting of crop or environmental effect
    • AERP Ag – Registrants summary of reported adverse experiences
    • AERP Ag – Glossary
  • Provide a copy of any incidence report to ACWA fax (08) 9244 2934
  • Submit samples of moribund animals to the Department of Fisheries, Fish Health Section for chemical residue testing. See here for sample shellfish or crustacean or fish preparation. Contact by phone (08) 9368 3357 to arrange the details.
  • Contact Department of Environment to report a pollution event, freecall 1800 018 800.
  • Keep a time log diary of government responses to the spray drift incident(s). Note the name of officers, time, day date, and advice and action taken.

Useful Reading

Spray Drift Management – Principles, Strategies and supporting information – This book provides an excellent background on best practice spray drift management.


Code of Practice for the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Western Australia (March 2005) – This document details the recommended approach to managing spray drift in the Agri-foods sector Western Australia. The document is in it third edition and details the various laws that currently apply in Western Australia.


Eco-toxicology website – The ECOTOX (ECOTOXicology) database provides single chemical toxicity information for aquatic and terrestrial life.


Further information and advice on the use and effects of agricultural chemicals and Codes of Practice are available from your local Department of Agriculture office.

Department of Agriculture