Collecting and disseminating information regarding agrochemicals registered for use and maximum residue limits in Australian viticulture
Governments around the world set limits for the amount of residue of agrochemicals that is legally allowed in foods, including grapes and wine. Up-to-date information on agrochemical management is needed to ensure that finished wines meet these limits and do not encounter trade barriers. The aim of this project is to enable grape and wine producers to manage agrochemical residue levels in their products by collating and providing accurate and timely information on regulatory and technical aspects of chemicals registered for use in Australian viticulture, and the maximum residue limit (MRL) requirements of those chemicals in domestic and key export markets.
The project team identifies potential pest, disease and agrochemical issues through a number of established information-gathering and support mechanisms and through liaison with key industry and government stakeholder networks. Up-to-date reference tools are maintained, including the AWRI MRL and agrochemical databases. A number of dissemination channels are employed to update stakeholders of changes. Chemical manufacturers and distributors are also consulted to keep abreast of changes in the range and supply of agrochemical products. The outcomes are made available in the publication Agrochemicals registered for use in Australian viticulture (known as the ‘Dog book’), an online search portal and a smart phone agrochemical app.
The project team reviewed 197 Sanitary and Phytosanitary notifications from the World Trade Organization and 27 gazettes issued by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).The outcomes of these reviews included changes to MRLs applicable to numerous markets including Brazil, Canada, the European Union and the United States. The APVMA gazettes highlighted issues such as the cancellation of the herbicide diuron and the future registration of fluopyram for Botrytis and powdery mildew. The changing status of diuron had been forecast and the impact on the grape sector was minimal due to the phasing out of the chemical from the ‘Dog book’ the previous season.
Each year, post-harvest, the project team reviews the latest information on agrochemicals by liaising with regulators, chemical manufacturers, suppliers and end-users. Best practice recommendations are then incorporated into a new version of the ‘Dog book’. In total, 10,000 copies of the 2015/2016 ‘Dog book’ were produced and distributed by direct mail to all levy payers, via regional association networks, AWRI roadshow events, chemical retailers and an insert in the Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker. Further updates were made to the online search portal and the smart phone agrochemical app and an electronic version of the publication was made available through the AWRI website. The ‘Dog book’ was expanded to include information on new active constituents and products. One significant change was the inclusion of a product containing fluazinam for the control of the trunk disease Eutypa (caused by the fungus Eutypa lata). The design of the booklet was also changed to distinguish the recommended products section from the registered products section by printing the latter in black and white. A push was also made to highlight to growers the importance of recognising the correct growth stage and following label directions accurately. Two eBulletins were also issued to provide timely information on agrochemical issues and alerts.
Improving grape sector practices and spray options
The project team consulted with APVMA and Wine Australia on spray drift reduction strategies that will be suitable for the viticulture sector. Early adoption of technologies that reduce drift will prepare the grape and wine industry for a future where spray application buffer zones could potentially reduce agrochemical options in the vineyard. The AWRI is also continuing to support the establishment of a maximum residue limit (MRL) for phosphorous acid (phos acid) in key export markets.