We salute the movers and the shakers in our industry — those who speak up and lead the way to do things better.
Grain Producers SA’s ‘Responsible Chemical Applicator Pledge’ is making waves, and if you haven’t heard of this voluntary pledge to help build a sustainable and ecological approach to reducing agrichemical spray drift, you need to know about it. We caught up with Grain Producers SA CEO Brad Perry for the lowdown.
What drove you to start the pledge?
Irresponsible spray application (or spray drift) has been an ongoing issue for a number of years. Spray drift can impact neighbouring farms and communities, particularly when there’s a coexistence of primary production activities. As leaders in the grain industry, we want to use chemicals responsibly to ensure we have continued access to the technologies we need to sustainably grow crops, and we want to show consumers and the wider community that we’re doing the right thing by everyone.
We had a lot of discussions internally and worked with our Research, Development and Extension Committee to figure out how we could make some noise and have an impact with a year-round conversation, rather than just during summer spraying. The result was this proactive initiative that targets behavioural change, and we kicked off about twelve months ago.
How does the pledge work?
It’s a really simple process for the grower, who can get on board online. We ask approximately 15 educational-type questions, which are designed to help producers with their basic understanding of spraying, and it also helps us identify where there are gaps, so it has a two-fold effect.
Once they sign up, we send them a pledge pack, which has a sticker for their ute or tractor, a certificate to display in the office and a corflute to pop up on their fence. The idea is that they’re letting others know they care about responsible spraying and they’re following it. It works by applying peer pressure on others to ensure they’re doing the right thing and a reward for those who already are — and also, as a thankyou, they receive a $100 voucher with participating partners at either Elders Rural or Nutrien, thanks to our Pledge supporter CropLife.
If behaviour doesn’t change, what does the future of ag look like?
Without crop protection products, sustainable grain production is exposed to all sorts of threats. This campaign is designed to help ensure our growers can maintain access to chemicals that are critical to growing a crop. If we do the right thing now, it will make a big difference to the future of agriculture from within the industry, how we’re regarded from the outside, and it will help minimise any negative health and environmental effects.
What’s been the response to it?
Fantastic! This type of initiative and approach hasn’t been done in the grain industry in Australia before. It’s just one prong of the solution, but we think it can have a wide-ranging impact on everyone as word gets out. It’s great to have CropLife on board as our partner in the project. CropLife’s members represent 85 percent of crop protection and 95 per cent of crop biotechnology products used by Australian farmers, so it’s important to have their support in this campaign.
We’ve had a steady flow of grain producers signing up and lots of positive feedback about the initiative from the communities. It’s been really inspiring going out to the regions to hand-deliver the corflutes to producers and hearing about why they’re backing the Spray Pledge and encouraging other grain producers to get on board. A lot of them want to get the word out that they’re proudly using best management practice techniques on their farm, and this is a great way to do it.
We’ve now launched it on social media and there are updates through our newsletter and magazine, so we’re hoping it will gain even more traction as more people hear about how easy it is to sign up and demonstrate that as a grain producer, you’re committed to applying agrichemical responsibly.
For more information visit spraypledge.com.au