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Drop in kiwifruit spray complaints


MEDIA RELEASE


Drop in kiwifruit spray complaints

For immediate release: Thursday 18 September 2003

Agrichemical spraying of kiwifruit with Hi-cane® generated fewer complaints in the Bay of Plenty this season but sprayers “still have work to do” to improve performance, says Environment Bay of Plenty.

Over winter, the regional council logged 20 calls on its pollution hotline compared to 39 the previous Hi-cane® season. However, a new kiwifruit industry spray hotline also handled six complaints.

Even taking that into account, the difference was noticeable, says environmental field officer Chris McKay. Agrichemical spray contractors, in particular, had taken more care to follow the rules of the Regional Air Plan.

“Most of the complaints were about orchardists who did their own spraying. Many had not told their neighbour they were spraying, as they are supposed to under the Air Plan.” Two or three calls related to spraydrift from Hi-cane.

By the end of the season, staff had handed out three infringement notices with an instant fine of $300 each. They are still investigating three other cases.

Environment Bay of Plenty and the kiwifruit industry are now working together to improve the use of agrichemical sprays on kiwifruit orchards in the region. The project team includes representatives from the regional council, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, spray contractors and growers, and marketing company Zespri NZ Ltd.

Environment Bay of Plenty has also produced a booklet titled Application of Agrichemicals to help educate spray users. It explains the effects of spray drift, lists factors to consider when spraying, and details the responsibilities of applicators under the Bay of Plenty Regional Air Plan and GROWSAFE.

Principal compliance officer Andy Bruere says spraydrift is an ongoing issue in the region. “The wider impact of spraydrift should not be underestimated. Overseas markets are becoming more demanding about wanting socially and environmentally acceptable production practices. We need to make sure all agrichemicals are used correctly in an environmentally safe manner.”

Environment Bay of Plenty is responsible under the Resource Management Act for the control of spraying.

ENDS

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