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Chemical Industry News
No. 88 – Spring 2021
In this edition:
  • Automatic mutual recognition of chemical use licensing 
  • Be mindful of plant back period statements on labels  
  • Harmonisation of herbicide mode of action classifications
  • Chemical registration changes
  • Mix the right chemicals and additives in tank mixes
  • Record chemical treatment of bees
  • Agriculture Victoria chemical operations
  • Contacts
Automatic mutual recognition of chemical use licensing
Image of chemical spray helicopter in flight above forest

New automatic mutual recognition (AMR) laws for occupational licensing were introduced 1 July 2021 to cut cross-border red tape for skilled workers. The AMR scheme allows individuals to perform the activities they are licensed for in their home state in participating states and territories without the need to obtain a second licence or pay an additional fee. If the licence expires in the home state, the AMR no longer applies.

Victoria, New South Wales, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory are participating in the new AMR scheme. Other states are expected to follow.

Breaches to state or territory laws or licence conditions in the licensee’s home state or territory can lead to suspension or cancellation of the person’s right to work in the other states or territories.

It’s important to note that the AMR scheme only applies to individuals. Sole traders who are licensed under a Commercial Operator Licence, Pilot Chemical Rating Licence (or equivalent) or as a Remotely Piloted Aircraft pilot in a participating state or territory may also operate under the AMR scheme in Victoria. 

Interstate chemical spray businesses that operate as a corporate entity or other business structure must continue to hold a Commercial Operator Licence or Agricultural Aircraft Operator Licence issued by Agriculture Victoria to undertake commercial spraying in Victoria. 

Interstate spray contractors and pilots must abide by Victorian legislation, including Agricultural Chemical Control Areas. Remotely Piloted Aircraft Pilots must abide by the additional conditionsfor aerial spraying in Victoria. Victorian chemical use licence holders who wish to work interstate under the AMR scheme must refer to the chemical use legislation in the relevant state or territory. For more information about the AMR scheme, visit the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.

Be mindful of plant back period statements on labels
Photo close-up of mint leaves on plant

Herbs are increasingly being grown as part of a rotation with vegetables. As there are very few chemical products registered for use on herbs, it is important to follow any plant back statements on the label of the chemical products that were used on the previous vegetable crop (or other crop) to avoid damaging new herb crops.

Product labels contain information and directions to ensure the safe and effective use of the product. It is important to read all information on the label before using a chemical product. Herbicide products may have a statement relating to plant back periods of crops after the chemical has been used. Depending on the wording of these statements, they may be enforceable under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1992, making it illegal to plant crops contrary to the plant back statement.

An example of this can be seen in the following statement from a pre-emergent herbicide product label: 

“CROP PLANT BACK: DO NOT plant crops other than those on the label within 8 months of application. If replanting is required because of an early crop failure the planting of onions or potatoes may result in crop injury. However, all crops on this label may be planted following harvest of a crop treated with pre-emergent herbicide.”

As the statement begins with ‘DO NOT’, it is illegal to plant a crop not listed on the label (including herbs) within 8 months of the last application of this product. Not complying with this statement may result in crop failure or residues of the chemical in the produce.

Remember, it is your responsibility to ensure you use chemicals legally. When using chemicals, read the whole label to ensure you know how the product should be used. Accurate record keeping will be a good reference to ensure ‘DO NOT’ plant back statements are observed.

Harmonisation of herbicide mode of action classifications
Decorative image showing green circle with text, 'Don't forget, herbicide mode of action classifications have changed!', QR code and website, (source: CropLife Australia)

Herbicide mode of action classifications group herbicides according to how the herbicide affects a plant. This classification assists farmers to identify different groups of herbicides when trying to manage herbicide resistance. 

In 1992, Australia was the first country in the world to introduce mandatory mode of action classifications to herbicide labels. Over the years, several other systems have been developed internationally, which sometimes causes confusion. An agreement has been made to update international herbicide mode of action classifications to become one global classification system. The new classification system will be based on a numerical system, rather than an alphabetical system, to allow for new herbicide mode of action classifications to enter the market.

This new classification system is due to start appearing on chemical labels in Australia from early 2022 and is expected to be fully implemented by the end of 2024.

CropLife Australia will be working with resistance management experts, advisors and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to ensure farmers and agronomists are aware of the upcoming changes.

A mobile app, compatible with Android and Apple systems, is available at Global HRAC or by searching 'Global HRAC' in the mobile app store. A website tool is also available at Global HRAC that will cross reference the herbicide active ingredient with its former mode of action letter and new mode of action number. Printed materials will also be made available to enable cross referencing of the changes.

Chemical registration changes

In recent times, there have been changes to the registration of products formerly available for use by horticulture producers, particularly table grape growers. Changes have been made to the products, Tokuthion Insecticide Spray (active ingredient, prothiofos) and Suprathion 400 EC Insecticide (active ingredient, methidathion).

Tokuthion Insecticide Spray is no longer registered for use on table grapes. The registration was removed from the label on 25 September 2018 and the phase out period ended on 3 October 2019. The maximum residue limit (MRL) for prothiofos in grapes was also removed from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) standard in October 2019, meaning any detectable residues of prothiofos should not be present in table grapes.

Methidathion is no longer registered for use in Australia. Registration of this active was cancelled on 4 February 2020. Suprathion 400 EC Insecticide was the last product containing methidathion that was registered for use in Australia, and its use was phased out on 4 February 2021. There are no MRLs in the APVMA MRL standard for methidathion, meaning no detectable residues of methidathion should be present in any produce grown in Australia.

It is important to note registration changes of agricultural chemicals and observe product phase out periods. There may be a lag between the APVMA removing MRLs from their standard and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) reflecting the changes for MRLs in the Food Standards Code (FSC). Regardless of a discrepancy between the two standards, chemicals should be used according to the current registration status. To check the registration status of your chemicals, visit the APVMA website.

Mix the right chemicals and additives in tank mixes
A parked green boom sprayer

Understanding how chemical products and additives work when combined in a tank mix is an important part of responsible chemical use. By understanding this interaction, chemical users will use the right chemical and additive combinations and avoid damaging crops. 

Chemical product labels specify the additives that will achieve the best outcome when mixed with the chemical product, which takes the guess work out for chemical users. The properties of adjuvants, wetters, penetrants etc, can be very different and may cause the chemical in the tank mix to work in an unexpected manner. It is important to note that not all chemical products with the same active constituent can mix with the same additives. 

There have been instances where Agriculture Victoria has identified damage to crops from incorrect mixing. In one example, damage to a pine plantation resulted from the use of an incorrect surfactant in the tank mix. It’s recommended that you always read and follow the label direction before mixing.

Damage to crops as a result of mixing the incorrect chemical and additive can even result in prosecution if the chemical use is contradictory to prohibitive label statements. If the label specifies the use of a specific additive, this must be used. 

If you’re unsure of which additive to mix with a chemical you’re intending to use, seek advice from your local chemical reseller.

Record chemical treatment of bees
Photo of honey in jar with honey spoon and pieces of honeycomb

With the ever-increasing interest in beekeeping in Victoria, it is important to remember to keep chemical use records. Beekeepers must record the use of any agricultural chemicals or Prescription Animal Remedy (available only from vets or animal health products with an applicable withholding period) to treat their bees and bee related equipment.  

Record keeping rules apply because bees are food producing animals under state legislation. As a result, all beekeepers, whether selling honey to consumers at the local market or to a commercial honey packer, must record the required information within 48 hours of using an agricultural chemical or Prescription Animal Remedy product and keep these records for two years.

A record keeping template for bees is available for use on the Agriculture Victoria website. The template includes the minimum information required to be recorded, however beekeepers are free to record this data in other formats (e.g. electronic spreadsheet) as long as the minimum details are kept.  

Beekeepers are also reminded that to use Fumitoxin fumigant coated insecticide tablets (active ingredient, aluminium phosphide), an Agriculture Victoria issued Agricultural Chemical User Permit is required.

Image of Agriculture Victoria record keeping template for the treatment of bees or beekeeping equipment with agvet chemicals
Agriculture Victoria chemical operations

Visit for information about:

  • rules and regulations on the use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Victoria
  • licence and permit application forms
  • agricultural chemical control areas.

​For general enquiries, phone 136 186 or email


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