The spray season for kiwifruit growers is starting, and Bay of Plenty Regional Council is working with the industry to ensure spray drift problems are reduced this year.
Hydrogen Cyanamide, known as Hi-Cane, is sprayed on kiwifruit vines to promote more and larger fruit on the vines, promote bud break, ensure earlier and shorter flowering, and more flowers with fewer double and triple flowers which reduce fruit size.
In recent years the Bay of Plenty Spray Focus Group, which includes representatives of kiwifruit marketers Zespri, NZ Kiwifruit Growers Inc, Kiwifruit Vine Health, the public and Regional Council staff have worked to reduce the effects of sprays on the community, using best practice spraying methods.
Chair of the group, senior regional council pollution prevention officer John Morris said last spray season the council received 11 complaints during the Hi-Cane spray season.
"This was a great result and we really hope that everyone plays their part again this season to reduce this figure even more," he said.
"I believe this was a direct reflection on the efforts that everyone put in over the years since establishing the Spray Focus Group. But we can't get complacent on one good result. All the good work over the past few years can be undone so we need to continue to strive for improvements," he said.
The Spray Focus Group would like to see everyone abiding by the Regional Air Plan Rules and adopting a best practice approach to the use of Hi-Cane, and it was a timely reminder for orchardists and spray applicators to take extra care.
Spraying close to schools, kohanga reo and other sensitive areas, extra caution and communication was required.
Sprayers needed to make sure their notification list was updated.
Contractors and sprayers needed to take extra care, including considering increasing buffer zones, when there were inadequate shelterbelts between property boundaries or public roads.
"If anyone is concerned about a neighbour spraying they should contact the Regional Council's Pollution Hotline on 0800 884 883. This is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.
Honorary wardens provided by kiwifruit growers' organisation NZKGI have been trained to investigate complaints immediately, and Rural Post delivery people are also being trained to recognise and report any problems as mobile 'eyes and ears'.
The Regional Council could make a formal written warning, abatement notice, instant fine or in serious cases a prosecution if people did not abide by the rules, he said.