The Brumby Labor Government has unveiled a new web-based program to help farmers make informed decisions on the best use of chemicals in the war on locusts this spring.
The new web-based ‘Ready Reckoner’ program coincides with the release of which chemicals will be rebated as part of the 100 per cent chemical rebate scheme for affected farmers.
Agriculture Minister Joe Helper said the Ready Reckoner, which forms part of the Government’s $43.5 million war on locusts, would assist farmers with information on how each of the more than 100 nominated chemical products included in the rebate scheme could best suit them.
“The Brumby Labor Government is taking action now to fight a predicted locust plague which has the potential to cost Victoria’s agricultural sector $2 billion if left untreated,” Mr Helper said.
“The most effective time to spray for locusts is about two weeks after they have hatched; when they are immature, unable to fly and group together in thick bands on the ground. We are encouraging landholders to plan now for that narrow window of opportunity later in the year.
“The Ready Reckoner, which will be available to farmers from tomorrow, will give farmers practical tips on what chemicals they may need depending on their crop, other enterprises on the property and consideration of sensitive areas.
“The Ready Reckoner provides a helping hand with the decision-making process but landholders must make their own decision about which chemical is best for them and any final decisions should be made in consultation with their agronomist or chemical re-seller.”
Mr Helper said the chemical rebate scheme for affected farmers would run from September 1 to the end of May next year.
“Rebates will be available for farmers for insecticide used after application and farmers will be required to provide a statutory declaration recording details of spraying dates, types and volumes of chemicals used, concentration levels and the area it was applied to,” he said.
Mr Helper said while some farmers would likely need just one application of chemicals, there will be some who may have to undertake more than one application on a particular part of their land.
“It is for that reason we are making the maximum that a landholder can claim under the chemical rebate scheme the equivalent of treating once 100 per cent of their property,” he said.
“This is a flexible approach that should meet the needs of landholders when spraying this spring.”
Mr Helper said the Government believed the rebate scheme was the most effective way of supporting landholders in the war on locusts.
“It allows farmers to choose what chemicals best suit their circumstances, and once those chemicals have been applied, they will be rebated. This approach has been supported by farming groups,” he said.
“Even with our best efforts there will be a large number of locusts this spring, this is an unavoidable reality, but working together with landholders we can do our best to minimise their impact on Victoria’s agricultural sector.”
The chemical rebate scheme will apply to landholders in the 22 Victorian shires covering the two million hectares where scientists had confirmed the greatest concentration of egg beds.
These council areas include Ararat, Buloke, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Gannawarra, Greater Bendigo, Greater Shepparton, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Loddon, Macedon Ranges, Mildura, Mitchell, Moira, Mount Alexander, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Southern Grampians, Strathbogie, Swan Hill, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack.
Rebates will be available through Department of Primary Industries (DPI) offices and fact sheets, further information and the Ready Reckoner is available by visiting www.dpi.vic.gov.au/locust
(Audio available by visiting www.premier.vic.gov.au)