An article from Integrity Fruit - "What is the Value of a Spray Diary?"

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 Growers Need To Value Their Spray Diary

 (Part 1) By Tony Filippi, Integrity Fruit Grower Services

At the end of the harvest season when growers take a well-deserved break, it is the most opportune time to conduct a review of what has happened in the orchard throughout the season.

Pack out feedback provides the grower with information on defects and blemishes which can be related to nutritional (calcium), pest (mites & Codling Moth) and disease (powdery mildew & Brown Rot) issues.

By reviewing what you have done through the season and investigate as to what can be done to improve it for the following season makes the spray diary a valuable tool.

Spray Diary pic 1 Tony Fillippi Intergrity article 3.5.16




What is a spray diary?

 It is an agrochemical record of the sprays applied to the whole property throughout the season including the weather conditions under which it was carried out.

The diary record, along with the residue samples tested verifies that the chemicals used have been correctly selected for the intended target i.e. pest, disease or nutrient, when it was applied and has been calibrated correctly so over or under dosing does not occur. Also important, are the weather conditions they were applied under due to issues such as spray drift.

By following this the grower should not breach the Maximum Residue Level (MRL).

We all equate this to food safety so as to ensure the end consumer receiving the fruit has confidence all residues, if any are within the acceptable limits.

Where else is it valued?

If spray data is collected and aggregated into an industry database it reveals the pattern of use, the rates, amounts, tank mixes, pests targeted, etc. This is important to collate as when bodies such as APAL and Summer Fruit need this type of information to negotiate with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority when trying to maintain the registration of a chemical that has come under review. These reviews in part are driven by the end consumer directing the market to exclude as many as possible chemical residues that are harmful to both humans and the environment.

Correspondingly, when exporting it is of the utmost importance that residues for the country you are sending to is not breached. The grower must understand that some chemicals used in Australia will not comply with MRL’s for some exporting countries, as a breach will not only jeopardise that grower from the market but possibly their whole Australian industry. 

Along with residue sample testing the spray diary is the only form of defence as it will record applications in line with all specified markets.

Seasonal review on farm

Another use is by reviewing the problems encountered from pest and disease experienced during the season by assessing the performance of the controls applied. This assessment will reveal whether you need to change or improve your spray applications.

This information will provide the opportunity to find any gaps in your spray program and be more targeted in ways to manage pest and disease without excessive broad-spectrum chemical use.

The final point here will be discussed in more detail next week in part 2 on how to assess the performance of your seasonal spray controls.