Agrichemicals are chemicals used in agricultural production. Many of them are used as sprays to control insects or other pests, weeds or plant diseases. Due to weather conditions, the nature of the landscape and operator use, the spray sometimes drifts away from the target crop or area. This is known as spraydrift. 

Spraydrift can affect your health, how badly will depend on things like the extent of the drift, the chemical makeup of the spray, and the concentration of the spray. If you have concerns about your health, after there has been spraying in your area, contact your doctor or health professional.

Rules or regulations

There is one golden rule: If you're planning to spray, let your neighbours know well in advance!

You should also be aware that:

  • Under the Resource Management Act, Bay of Plenty Regional Council is responsible for the control of spraying anywhere in the region - the Proposed Regional Air Plan sets out what operators can and can not do.
  • Health protection authorities are obliged to investigate reports from people who feel their health has been affected by spraydrift. Under the Health Act, poisoning arising from chemical contamination is a notifiable disease.
  • Under the Ministry of Primary Industries regulations spraydrift damage to other properties (mainly plant damage) could result in the initiation of criminal proceedings.

Avoiding spraydrift

There are a number of things you can do to help prevent contact with spraydrift:

  • Carefully read and follow the rules of the Bay of Plenty Regional Air Plan.
  • Read agrichemical labels carefully and follow the instructions.
  • Only employ qualified and experienced spray contractors.
  • Follow the Growsafe Agrichemical Users' Code of Practice.
  • Stop any outdoor activity - for example, children and pets playing outside.
  • Close windows.
  • Bring in washing from the line.
  • Store some water in clean containers. (To keep it clean, add ½ a teaspoon of household bleach per 10 litres.)
  • Disconnect the pipes to any water tanks collecting rainwater from a roof.
  • Cover fishponds.

If spraydrift does occur and you are concerned about possible effects on health, animals or plants, phone our Pollution Hotline 0800 884 883.

KeyStrepto kiwifruit spraying

The Approvals and Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Group of Ministry of Primary Industries has granted limited approval for the use of streptomycin (KeyStrepto) on kiwifruit vines.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council is responsible for upholding the regulations of the Regional Air Plan and the Resource Management Act. The key components in relation to the application of KeyStrepto under our Air Plan is as follows:

  • KeyStrepto is classed as an agrichemical.
  • Notification must be given to the occupiers of all adjoining properties within 50 metres of that agrichemical use.
  • Notification must be no earlier than 20 days and no later than 12 hours.
  • Road side signage must be placed on the road boundary 24 hours before the time of application.
  • The discharge must not result in any harmful concentration of agrichemical beyond the property boundary.  

Therefore if you believe a breach has occurred please contact the pollution hotline on 0800 884 883.

For any further information about KeyStrepto please refer to the agencies below.

The Approvals and Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Group (ACVM Group) of MAF has granted limited approval for the use of streptomycin on kiwifruit vines.

The approval for use on kiwifruit vines requires that the product (Streptomycin - trade name KeyStrepto) is to be used under specified conditions, including that it is only applied a maximum of three times to vines in the pre-flowering period from the last harvest to before flowers first appear on the vine (meaning it is never sprayed directly onto the flowers or fruit) and it is only applied in clearly specified high risk areas or where PSa is detected.

Provided the product is used in accordance with these instructions, there will be no detectable residues on fruit for consumption. As a precautionary measure, fruit from vines documented as having KeyStrepto applied will be tested for residues.  This testing will be managed by Zespri and the industry body established to manage PSa - Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) and data collated will be supplied to the ACVM Group.

Streptomycin has been approved for use on crops in New Zealand since the 1960s and the trade-named KeyStrepto was registered for use in 1978.  This approval granted for kiwifruit is not a new registration, but rather extends the use conditions of the current registration to allow for use on kiwifruit. This approval was granted due to the urgency of the PSa situation and the damaging consequences of this disease on the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.

MAF's ACVM group applied its standard risk assessment and risk management approach to the decision to extend the use conditions for KeyStrepto to kiwifruit. In this case, as with any agricultural compound or veterinary medicine approval, the ACVM Group has the right to reassess approvals if new information comes to light indicating that use conditions should change or product approvals be withdrawn.

The ACVM Group has a primary role of regulating agricultural compounds, such as KeyStrepto, to ensure they are fit for purpose, and the safety and suitability of food products (including bee products) treated with them, for both domestic and export markets is retained.  It will not be compromised.

The Australian and New Zealand authority Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) recently did a risk assessment on the use of antibiotics in some New Zealand apple orchards in response to concerns about possible health and safety risks.  The report found that the possibility of residues being present in fruit was minimal and that the use of Streptomycin presented a negligible food safety risk.  The results were confirmed by internationally-recognised experts in the field of antimicrobial (antibiotic) resistance.

The Environmental Protection Authority manages the risks to people and the environment from the adverse effects of hazardous substances, including spraydrift. The use of streptomycin is subject to tight controls under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act.

Commercial contractors applying streptomycin must be HSNO Approved Handlers. This means they must have the knowledge and skill to use the substance in a manner which does not harm themselves, bystanders or the environment.  This includes taking appropriate measures to avoid spray drift, and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

In addition, growers are required to use low spray drift technology until the canopy is sufficiently developed to prevent spray drift and to only spray in low to no wind conditions, as well as notifying surrounding properties at least 12 hours in advance of spraying.

As a precaution, as with any agrichemical spraying, it is recommended that windows are closed, and people and animals stay indoors or away from the area, while spraying is underway. Providing streptomycin is used in accordance with the controls, the EPA has no concerns about risks to human health or the environment.

Kiwifruit Vine Health work to minimise the impact of Psa-V on the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and enable affected growers to re-establish their orchards.

Check out the latest updates from KVH on KeyStrepto.