Aerial application of glyphosate on maize illegal

Aerial application of glyphosate on maize illegal
South African farmers have been warned that glyphosate-containing products used in the aerial spraying of maize are currently not registered. Photo: FW Archive
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All efforts by Grain SA to obtain a label extension for the use of glyphosate-containing products as a pre-harvest aerial applicable herbicide in the current maize production season has so far came to naught.

This was according to Corné Louw, Grain SA senior economist, who said the application for registration could not be granted because of insufficient data on the product.

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He said that in March this year, it came to Grain SA’s attention that maize producers in the summer grain production region had unknowingly been using an off-label aerial application to control winter weeds in fields of mature maize.

“In April, an action committee was established to investigate ways to urgently register glyphosate products for this specific use, because of the urgent need for weed control when the maize reached the so-called black layer stage,” he explained in a statement.

According to Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, operations and stewardship manager at CropLife South Africa, it was vital that agricultural chemicals were strictly used according to label instructions.

The fact of the matter was that products containing glyphosate had not been registered for aerial application at present, he said.

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It was illegal for any plant protection solution to be applied for any use whatsoever if the use was not explicitly registered in terms of the Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Seeds and Remedies Act 36 of 1947.

“I do not know how long this irresponsible practice to control Conyza (fleabane) and other broad-leaved weeds has been going on. I urge all farmers to stop the aerial application of glyphosate,” he told Farmer’s Weekly.

When Grain SA became aware of the aerial application of glyphosate, the organisation immediately brought the matter to the attention of the Registrar of Act 36 of 1947, only to find out registration could not take place immediately, as local residue data and a risk assessment were needed for registration.

According to Louw, no data had been gathered over the years to support this urgent application, and the application could consequently not be granted.

“Hopefully the registration [will] be in place by next season,” he added.

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