Spray drift

Spray drift management


The possibility of off-target spray drift accompanying the application of pesticides is a concern both to the community and the agricultural industry, for whom it is a constant challenge to find ways to minimise it more effectively. The APVMA is responsible for ensuring that off-target pesticide spray drift does not harm human health, the environment or Australia’s international trade.

From 2010 to 2019 the APVMA implemented a policy known as the Operating Principles in Relation to Spray Drift Risk. This policy had some limitations, including a lack of flexibility and ability to adopt newer systems/technologies to reduce the risk of spray drift. The risk assessments supporting the approval of pesticide products was based on worst case scenarios and provided little incentive for spray applicators to adopt best practice, new technology and/or operations that will limit spray drift.

The APVMA therefore began a project in 2013 to develop a new spray drift regulatory approach that will enable users to potentially reduce buffer zones. Two rounds of public consultation were undertaken on the new APVMA approach to spray drift management. This policy was implemented on 19 July 2019.

Documents and files

The following documents and files all form part of the spray drift management approach.

Overview of the spray drift management approach

Under the spray drift management approach, there are no changes to the current items and modules for registration applications.

Applicants will continue to submit relevant information packages to allow the regulatory acceptable levels (RAL) to be determined. The method used to determine the RAL is described in chapter three of the SDRAM.

Standard deposition curves (outlined in chapter four of the SDRAM and scenario files) will be used to determine buffer zones based on realistic worst case scenarios. Applicants will also have an option to provide information to determine custom deposition curves. The SDDG describe how spray drift information and data may be generated and submitted.

The approved RAL and deposition curve would be entered into the SDRAT that is described in chapter six of the SDRAM. The SDRAT contains approved label instructions (chapter five of the SDRAM) and will be used to generate the label instructions, including buffer zones and spray drift restraints.

The SDMT will be used by the APVMA to include buffer zones, relevant to the use of DRTs, on labels or permits as described in chapter seven. When state legislation can support it, users may in the future be able to recalculate buffer zones according to their individual circumstances including such factors as their spray equipment, application rate, weather conditions etc (stage two).

The spray drift policy will initially be applied to new substances and substances under chemical review. It will also be used for all new applications where spray drift assessment will be required. The policy may be extended to legacy products on a priority and risk basis and registrants may proactively elect to use the new policy.

Spray Drift Risk Assessment Manual (SDRAM)

If you are preparing an application and require assistance to determine what information you may need to include with your application, it may be addressed through a pre-application assistance application.

Reporting spray drift incidents

State and territory governments are responsible for addressing incidents of off-target spray drift. The following information will help you identify the process for reporting a spray drift incident in your state or territory:

General chemical use information

Many industry representative groups and state and territory governments produce general guidance for applying agricultural chemical products safely. These can be used for reference, but are not necessarily reflective of mandatory legal requirements unless specifically stated.

Industry representative groups

State and territory governments


Gary Dorr
Risk manager

Phone: +61 2 6770 2326

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