What farmers count on as written on a chemical label unfortunately doesn’t always match what’s on the drum. This is what has happened this season when there were at least two cases of understrength herbicide product being sold by other suppliers.
Farmers with these products would have inadvertently been applying sub lethal application rates of herbicide, resulting in poor efficacy that was probably blamed on other factors.
Furthermore, the low rates applied could also contribute to herbicide resistance problems. It is not practical for farmers to test every chemical batch that is used on their properties although in these instances remarkably low prices spurred well founded suspicion.
By contrast suppliers like 4Farmers systematically test all imported and locally made products. Every effort is made to see that all products are of suitable quality before the farmer receives them.
Australian law requires all agricultural and veterinary chemical products sold in Australia to be registered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).
The APVMA also has the responsibilities to monitor compliance – and when necessary, undertake enforcement activities.
In the cases quoted above it took the APVMA, after first notification, approximately a month for them to formally issue a recall notice.
It is not practical for farmers to test every chemical batch that is used on their properties although in these instances remarkably low prices spurred well founded suspicion.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Genuine formulation errors can happen, and worse, blatant shortcuts have been done to cheapen chemicals. When suppliers are dealing with overseas factories it is arguably more challenging and prone to error.
In June this year the APVMA recalled two Bromoxynil products for being outside of specifications.
One of these products, a Bromoxynil Diflufenican co-formulation, that is supposed to have 250g/l of Bromoxynil had approximately 170g/l, or about 30% less than it ought to.
The issue appears to have occurred due to a formulation error and the manufacturer not correctly calculating the active content that is supplied in a compound used in manufacturing.
In this case there was 250g/l of the compound, Bromoxynil Octanoate in the final product but only 70% of this is Bromoxynil, thus the error. The shortfall of Bromoxynil was worth over $2/L which explained why the product was significantly cheaper than other similar products in the market.
A similar error appears to have occurred with an LVE MCPA 570 product where the active content tested to being only approximately 370g/l, or 35% less than its labelled content.
Again, this appears to be a formulation error where the manufacturer has formulated the product using MCPA 2-ethylhexyl ester compound to a strength of 570g/l rather than calculating using the actual active MCPA component of the compound.
VALUE OF INDEPENDENT LOCAL TESTING
Naïve or inexperienced importers are especially vulnerable if they lack the knowledge about proper specifications or possibly don’t even see the product before it is sold.
If the supplier relies solely on the Certificate of Analysis (COA) from the formulator and has no system of doing independent testing themselves this can develop into a major problem.
In regard to the second example described here of the LVE MCPA 570, the APVMA has had notice for 2 months at the time of writing of the compliance discrepancy and there is no indication that any recall or actions are happening!
Many who bought this product would still have no idea that they were using understrength product.
Cheap is not always good or the best value.
Buying your chemical from reputable suppliers like 4Farmers that either make the product themselves or at least independently test the product and can better guarantee quality product that meets the product specifications is the safer way to go.
The APVMA’s effort in protecting farmer’s interest and making sure products reasonably meet standards is disappointing.