Responsible aerial distribution of agricultural chemicals
Aerial distribution is a proven, reliable and efficient tool for controlling pests in appropriate situations. Provided the pilot in command uses the agricultural chemical correctly and carries out the distribution under the right weather conditions and uses correctly calibrated equipment attached to the aircraft then aerial distribution should pose few risks to agriculture or livestock, the environment, trade or human health.
Check your aircraft and equipment
If you are a pilot in command of an aircraft undertaking aerial distribution of agricultural chemicals, you should check the aircraft beforehand, as well as the aerial equipment attached to or installed in it, to ensure it is in sound condition and good working order, and not likely to injure or damage livestock or crops not intended to be treated.
You should also check that spray nozzles are delivering the correct droplet size to evenly distribute the agricultural chemical mixture. This will reduce or even prevent spray drift. You must not carry out aerial distribution unless each spray nozzle is fitted with a positive and effective leak-proof cut-off system.
Consult your clients
Before conducting aerial distribution, consult with your clients to identify sensitive crops and areas, including creeks and streams, livestock paddocks or schools, hospitals or houses around the area where the distribution is to occur. You may need to pay extra attention to these sensitive areas during the aerial distribution.
Check the weather conditions
Consider the weather conditions before commencing aerial distribution. It is an offence under the Agricultural Chemicals Distribution Control Act 1966 for a pilot in command to permit aerial distribution to be carried out under meteorological conditions that might reasonably be expected to cause damage to crops not intended to be treated, or livestock.
Learn more about minimising the impacts of spray drift.
Be careful with chemicals
You must ensure that no-one opens containers of volatile formulations, such as ester formulations of the herbicides 2,4-D, MCPA and picloram, within 25m of any crop that is susceptible to damage from such herbicides unless they have an acceptable reason to do so.
As a pilot, you have an obligation under the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Act 1988 to use only agricultural chemical products that are registered or approved for the use by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).
You should also use agricultural chemical products in accordance with label instructions or APVMA permit conditions. Heavy penalties apply for anyone who misuses agricultural chemicals by not following label instructions.
- Learn more about the ground distribution of herbicides.