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Making and keeping records of agricultural chemical applications

All agricultural chemical users are responsible under the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Act 2017 for ensuring that records of each chemical application are made.

Certain non-agricultural chemical uses, such as domestic use of agricultural chemical products and use of pool or spa treatment chemicals, are exempted from record keeping requirements under the legislation. For such purposes, domestic use of an agricultural chemical product refers to the application of chemical products that are:

  • for household or home garden use
  • available in a retail store where groceries are sold
  • applied by hand or with a hand-operated device (e.g. a manually operated backpack sprayer)
  • for non-commercial use.

Conversely, there are some additional obligations for use of prescribed herbicides in certain situations within specified Great Barrier Reef catchments. Further information about these additional requirements can be found below and on the Department of Environment and Science website.

Benefits of keeping records of agricultural chemical use

Records are an excellent management tool and provide an information source that can be used to:

  • identify chemical use patterns
  • analyse the effectiveness of chemicals
  • assist in the design and implementation of integrated pest management programs
  • assess chemical resistance strategies
  • conduct financial planning and budgeting exercises
  • meet legal obligations
  • demonstrate due care and attention.

Types of agricultural chemical use records to keep

The Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Regulation 2017 and the Agricultural Chemicals Distribution Control Act 1966 collectively outline the types of records that must be made and kept for all agricultural chemical use.

All chemical users

Under the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Regulation 2017 all users of agricultural chemicals must record:

  • the full name and contact details, including address and telephone number, of:
    • the person who used the product
    • the owner or occupier of the land on which the product was used
    • anyone who was responsible for organising, overseeing or directly supervising the chemical use
  • the qualifications of the user and anyone responsible for organising or directly supervising the chemical use
  • sufficient particulars to identify the product or products used. Typically this would include the registered trade name of the product as found on the label, the registration number and label number assigned to the product by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the name of the manufacturer of the chemical and the name and amount of the active constituent of the chemical
  • details identifying the exact location of the land treated, including distance and directions from the nearest town site (e.g. the Real Property Description Number found on the rates notice for the property, together with a farm map detailing paddock names or numbers). Use of global positioning system (GPS) devices may also be helpful in determining and recording the exact location of the land treated
  • the date or dates of the chemical application
  • the equipment and methods used to apply the product (e.g. boomsprayer, handgun, type of nozzle used)
  • details of weather conditions (temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, amount of any rain) before, during and after the product was used and the times the observations were made. It is good practice to also note the time of any changes to conditions, such as the wind velocity and direction, during chemical application
  • the rate at which the product was used (e.g. per hectare) or enough information to calculate the rate, for example, the quantity, concentration, total spray volume and total area with respect to the chemical application
  • a description of the type of crop treated or a situation in which the chemical was used (e.g. roadsides, fallow)
  • the purpose for which the chemical was applied (e.g. control of wild oats)
  • any details stipulated in product label instructions or permit conditions.

Distribution contractor licence holders

In addition to the requirements for all chemical users, under the Agricultural Chemicals Distribution Control Act 1966 distribution contractor licence holders are also required to keep records of the following:

  • for aerial applications, the registration mark of the aircraft being used
  • the total area covered by the chemical application
  • description and amount of any diluent (e.g. water) or additives added to the spray mixture (e.g. wetting agents, spreaders or emulsifiers).

Agricultural ERAs in prescribed Great Barrier Reef catchments

Agricultural environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) are defined in the Environmental Protection Act 1994. Under the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Regulation 2017, relevant sugarcane growing and relevant cattle grazing are a subset of agricultural ERAs to which additional record keeping requirements apply for the use of prescribed agricultural ERA products.

Relevant sugarcane growing and relevant cattle grazing mean commercial sugarcane growing and cattle grazing, respectively, that is an agricultural ERA and carried out in any of the following Great Barrier Reef catchments:

  • the Wet Tropics Region
  • the Burdekin Region
  • the Mackay Whitsunday Region.

A prescribed agricultural ERA product means a product containing ametryn, atrazine, diuron, hexazinone or tebuthiuron.

In addition to the above record keeping requirements for all chemical users, for applications of prescribed agricultural ERA products (ametryn, atrazine, diuron or hexazinone for carrying out relevant sugarcane growing, or tebuthiuron for relevant cattle grazing), the records must also include:

  • a receipt or other record of acquisition of the product
  • a copy of any chemical application qualifications held by the chemical user.

Who must make and keep agricultural chemical use records

Under the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Regulation 2017, all agricultural chemical users must ensure that records of each chemical application are made.

Records must be made within 3 days of using a prescribed agricultural ERA product or within 2 days of any other use of an agricultural chemical.

For use of a prescribed agricultural ERA product for relevant sugarcane growing or relevant cattle grazing within a prescribed Great Barrier Reef catchment, a copy of the chemical use records must be given to a responsible person, where relevant. A responsible person includes:

  • the owner of the land if relevant sugarcane growing or relevant cattle grazing was carried out by the user of a prescribed agricultural ERA product under an arrangement with the owner of the land
  • or
  • another person who engages a user of a prescribed agricultural ERA product to carry out relevant sugarcane growing or relevant cattle grazing.

Where the application of a prescribed agricultural ERA product is carried out by a chemical user for a responsible person, the user must provide the records to the responsible person as soon as practicable and no later than 5 days after the record was made.

Records should be retained by all parties, including the chemical user, licensed distribution contractor (if applicable), and responsible person (if applicable). Records must be retained for a minimum of 2 years, or 6 years for a prescribed agricultural ERA product containing tebuthiuron. These records must be made available to an inspector appointed under the Chemical Usage (Agricultural and Veterinary) Control Act 1988 upon request. It is also a statutory requirement to supply records kept in accordance with the conditions of a distribution contractor licence, if requested by an inspector appointed under the Agricultural Chemicals Distribution Control Act 1966.

For further information, contact the DAF Customer Support Centre on 13 25 23.