Spraying in New South Wales? You may need an EPA licence

The macadamia industry is a significant positive contributor to the social and economic life of the regions in which we grow. Nevertheless, we need the good will and support of these communities if we wish to keep operating. While all those engaged in the macadamia industry are expected to follow all the relevant laws and regulations, we also need to strive to meet and exceed the expectations of our communities. The safe and responsible use of chemicals with a priority on the safety of community members and respect for the environment is a responsibility for us all.

Good record keeping and appropriate licences are just a part of the challenge we all face.

Do I need a licence?

You need a licence if you carry out ‘ground application work’ on private land in New South Wales. 

  • Ground application work is the use of pesticides (other than fumigants) for the control of weeds or pests for fee or reward.

If you are engaging a contractor or individual to carry out pesticide spraying on your farm, it is your responsibility to check the operator has a licence. There is a public register of all pesticide licences on the EPA website you can use to check.

The AMS has received advice from the EPA that if you are using a neighbour to do some spraying on your farm, unless they are a member of your family, they will need to have a licence where a fee is charged or even just the cost is being recovered. This is considered use of a pesticide for fee or reward. The only time someone can do application work for fee or reward without having a licence is if they are doing the work for a member of their family or if you are an employee of the enterprise on which the spraying is being done.

You do not need a licence if you are:

  •  a farmer using pesticides on land you own or occupy (so if you are doing spraying on your own farm, you don’t need a licence)
  •  an agricultural employee (e.g. farm hand) using pesticides as part of your employment 
  • using pesticides on land belonging to a member of your family  undertaking bush care or bush regeneration (i.e. maintaining or restoring native plant communities) 
  • spraying plants that fall within the ‘domestic like’ use exemptions.

There are other exemptions, but they don’t generally apply to macadamia growing. Please note that there are different rules for aerial application and fumigation.

Be aware that the licence applies to an individual, not a business. So, for example, if you own a contract spraying business which employs staff who carry out application work, each employee needs to hold a licence.

Spraying in Queensland?

Just a reminder for growers in Queensland, if you are spraying on your own property you do not need a licence. Only commercial herbicide sprayers need a licence in Queensland. Visit the Business Queensland website for more information (www.business.qld.gov.au).

How do I get a licence?

There are two ways to apply for a licence: you can download an application form or apply online (see the Information section at the end of the article).

You will need to have undertaken basic chemical use training to get a licence. The licence costs $395 (as of July 2019) and lasts for 5 years.

Download the application form

Be careful to select the correct form because there are different forms with very similar names. For a new licence you’ll need the one called Pest Management Technician, Fumigator or Ground Applicator licence application form. (Currently it is the first form in the list on the EPA’s website.)

Apply online using eConnect

If you are using eConnect (www.epa.nsw.gov.au/licensing/econnectepa.htm), scroll down to the ‘Pesticide licence and Pesticide training permit’ section and select the option appropriate to you (e.g. apply for a new licence or renew a licence).

Training requirements

If you are applying for a licence, you must have successfully completed the following units of competency (AQF3):

  • AHCCHM307 – Prepare and apply chemicals to control pest, weeds and diseases
  • AHCCHM304 – Transport and store chemicals.

Take home message:

Whether you are a farmer, farm manager or contract weed/pest sprayer, these new laws may apply to you. Make sure you understand your legal responsibilities. Get a licence if you need one or make sure anyone you pay to spray has a licence.

And remember, even if you don’t need a licence, you still need to meet mandatory training, record keeping and notification requirements.

More information

Go to the NSW Environment Protection Authority website: www.epa.nsw.gov.au. There are various webpages on the site with relevant information: 

  • Licences and advice for occupational pesticide users 
  • Pest management technicians, fumigators, training permits and ground applicators 
  • The fact sheet which explains the new licence: Ground application licence fact sheet.

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This website has been partly funded by Hort Innovation, using the macadamia research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government.