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Spray the right way with NZS 8409:2021 Management of agrichemicals

Behind New Zealand’s weed-free neighbourhood verges, fine green parklands, dense bush, disease-free livestock and humming farms and forests, lies agrichemical use. NZS 8409:2021 Management of agrichemicals helps users manage the range of chemicals safely, responsibly and effectively.

Farmer inspecting wheat Los Alamos National Laboratory

Farmer inspecting wheat Los Alamos National Laboratory CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and fumigants, detergents and sanitisers are a critical element in the multi-billion dollar primary industries that contribute towards our country’s economy and upkeep of our lived-in environment.

Managing the range of chemicals safely, responsibly and effectively and reflecting legislation needs all users to be on the same page and following good practice. That’s where NZS 8409:2021 comes in. From agrichemical use, transport and storage to handling, labelling and disposal, having consistent good practice keeps everyone and everywhere they are used safe.

This widely-used standard has undergone its first revision in nearly 20 years bringing agrichemical use into the 21st century through:

  • ensuring suitability of the standard to new technologies such as automated sprayers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drones
  • reflecting recent changes to legislation and an updated classification system for hazardous substances;
  • expanding off-label guidelines to align with current industry practice and extend to conservation work
  • including spray planning and notification requirements and a new requirement to undertake an on-site risk assessment immediately prior to spraying
  • updating guidance on personal protective equipment (PPE) to reflect new technology and regulatory changes along with a new section on the use of enclosed vehicle cabs and procedures for avoiding contamination ensuring wider agrichemical use is included including dairy detergents and sanitisers

Consensus-built and collaborative

‘This has been a great example of our partnership approach between the New Zealand Agrichemical Education Trust (NZAET) and Standards New Zealand,’ says Standards New Zealand’s Project Manager Brian Bell. ‘Our process ensures it is consensus-built, fair and unbiased, through collaboration between 17 committee representatives from across users, central and local government, and industry. Further contribution of over 350 comments from the public consultation ensured the voice of all parties was heard and relevance to all potential users considered. The standard will be the cornerstone of keeping users, the environment, and the food they produce safe with a focus on risk management, rather than being prescriptive.’

New Zealand Agrichemical Education Trust General Manager and committee member Jane Lamb explains the importance of the revision, ‘There are some big and important changes and additions included to bring this in line with environmental good practice.'

‘While the previous version was well written for its time, there are changes that need to be incorporated from regulatory changes in 2017. There’s a critical need to keep the standard updated so that exporters can comply with quality assurance programmes such New Zealand Good Agricultural Practice (NZGAP), and be able to sell produce in overseas markets. Standards like NZS 8409 help break down barriers to trade. There is no international or other national standard that covers the management of agrichemicals that relate to New Zealand’s distinct climate, environment and legislation.’

A multi-application benchmark

‘When we think of agrichemicals, we automatically think of agriculture and horticulture, but the standard’s application and scope goes far beyond that. It covers organic growers, park rangers and council workers using agrichemicals. Department of Conservation use it in their management of biosecurity – removing pest plants on their land.'

‘Growsafe provides training and certification to over 5,000 people a year based upon this standard, so it’s a fundamental part of many industries. It offers a benchmark for consistency and it is hoped that it will be adopted in regional plans across the country as these plans are reviewed over the next few years.’

‘Operating in accordance with this standard helps show that an organisation is operating with reasonable care for safety of people and the environment. You wouldn’t want to be facing legal action if you didn’t operate to standards guidelines.’

‘Much of New Zealand’s economy and environment rely on good responsible agrichemical use, and through setting and communicating clear standards we can make sure we’re all doing our part to grow New Zealand, responsibly and safely.’

NZS 8409:2021 Management of agrichemicals is available from our website.