11 August 1995

Essential chemicals at risk, warns Australian

Low attendance at last weeks World Sheep and Wool Congress, Malvern, Worcs, failed to reflect the value of the technical exhibits present. Rebecca Austin and Robert Davies report

CHEMICALS are essential for the continued production of high quality wool and meat products by the sheep industry, said Australias John Plant, the flock health programme leader for New South Wales Agricultures Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute.

When used correctly they are safe to the operator and sheep. The problem is that the chemicals are being abused, he added when speaking at the Malvern event.

"Unless farmers adopt a responsible attitude, chemicals that are essential for efficient sheep production will be lost to the industry," he said. "There are a number of strategies than can be applied that will not only reduce the risk to people applying the chemical to sheep, but also overcome environmental concerns both on farm and in wool scour."

He was referring in the main to concerns over organophosphate (OP) dips. In response he said in New South Wales nearly 10m sheep are plunge dipped each year. When facilities were well designed and sheep not handled post dipping, contractors, who had taken the necessary precautions, had not experienced ill effects.

"If any more pressure arises over the future of OP dips there is a chance we could lose this very valuable chemical which is important to the sheep industry worldwide," said Mr Plant. "To prevent this producers must read the safety guidelines on the labels and use the chemicals correctly at the right time and in the right manner."

"Producers must read the safety

guidelines on the labels," said John Plant