Map, guidelines to help stop spray drift

Vines are sensitive to spray drift, as shown by this recent damage  on a Central Otago vineyard....
Vines are sensitive to spray drift, as shown by this recent damage on a Central Otago vineyard. Photo: supplied.
Grape growers are hoping highlighting the location of vineyards around the district will minimise the threat of multimillion-dollar damage by spray drift.

This week, the Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association is sending 600 copies of its newly produced Central Otago Vineyard Locator Map to farmers and spray contractors in the district, along with a "best practice" spray guideline.

The map has been developed following concerns about several agrichemical spray-drift incidents in the region, which have caused millions of dollars worth of damage. The aim of the project is to ensure farmers and spray contractors are aware of the location of neighbouring vineyards, to minimise the threat of damage from drift. The map developer and past-president of the winegrowers’ association, James Dicey said spray drift incidents could happen up to 30km away from spray application so it was important for farmers and spray contractors to be aware of neighbouring vineyards.

"Over the past few years we have had a number of spray-drift incidents, resulting in major damage to vineyards. It’s heartbreaking for the owners and all concerned.

"We support our farming neighbours’ right to farm but ask them to stop and think before they spray. There are better times, chemicals and techniques that will minimise risk to grape vines."

Grapes were resilient but very sensitive to damage, he said.

"In a typical event the crop is lost and the shoots terminate or stop growing. They tend to grow out of the damage but the effect is felt in growing habit and yield for a couple of years and has a major financial impact on the business."

Earlier this year, he highlighted the damage caused by spray drift from a hormone herbicide on a Cromwell basin vineyard. It was a double blow as there was similar spray damage on the vineyard the previous year, he said. Mr Dicey declined to name the vineyard but said 25ha was affected.

Spray drift was an issue affecting vineyards nationwide, the chief executive of New Zealand Winegrowers, Philip Gregan, said.

"We have recently launched a Think before you Spray — Stop the Drift campaign and collated a series of resources to help raise awareness of the problem amongst producers, councils, spray contractors and aerial spray contractors in the agricultural aviation industry."

● The Central Otago Vineyard Map  is available from the Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association.   

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