Environment, Sustainability & Safety

“Don’t be a Bright Spark” this harvest campaign

For the 2023/24 harvest season GPSA continue to promote its “Don’t be a Bright Spark” campaign to remind grain producers to have their farm fire prevention strategies in place. GPSA has put together a fact sheet on the five simple steps to help reduce the risk of harvester fires. The steps are:

  1. Prepare
  2. Maintain
  3. Monitor
  4. Be Safe
  5. Communicate

See the fact sheet and associated campaign images below.

Download the “Bright Spark – Five steps to reduce harvester fire risk” Factsheet HERE.

Download the GFDI Grain Harvest Operations Table HERE.

Download the Grain Harvesting Code of Practice HERE.

Grain Harvesting

The new Australian Fire Danger Rating System (AFDRS) is redesigning the forecasting of fire danger in Australia. It is progressing beyond science that is more than 60 years old, and uses the latest science and technology to better reflect our environmental and weather conditions.

Following the national transition to the new AFDRS on 1 September 2022, we continue to support stakeholders in understanding and adapting to the new system.

We have developed information for primary producers to assist with the transition in relation to harvest management, such as the revised Grain Harvesting Code of Practice, Fire Behaviour Index fact sheet and access to the AURORA Fire Behaviour Calculator for primary producers.

Disclaimer: The Grain Harvesting Code is voluntary, not mandatory. The Code endeavours to set a limit above which it represents a clear danger to undertake grain related operations (that is, it is endeavouring to make it clear that when conditions reach a certain point there is no doubt that a farmer should not be undertaking Grain related operations). The Code does not profess to completely eliminate the risk of fires occurring if complied with– rather, it sets out best practice/guidelines and suggests that compliance will minimise and help to control risk rather than eliminate it altogether. Whilst the Code endeavours to set a limit, this does not mean that in conditions below this level it is safe to undertake Grain related operations- the farmer will always need to take into account his or her specific circumstances.

Private Farm Fire Unit Handbook 

The SA CFS Private Farm Fire Unit Handbook supports local initiatives or arrangements currently in place and provides advice for establishing and maintaining a consistent approach to the use of private farm fire units (PFFU) during SA bushfire events. 

The handbook provides guidance as to fire ground safety and expectations, wearing of personal protective clothing, safety equipment, communications and personal injury protection. 

GPSA recommend that all PFFU operators familiarise themselves with the handbook in order to promote the safe, effective and cooperative involvement of farm fire units with the CFS, to control fire events in the shortest possible time. 

For more information on farm fire units, see the CFS website.

Farm Fire Units registration trial

The CFS is currently trialling a state-wide program for the registration and coverage of Farm Firefighting Units (FFUs). 

The value of farm firefighting units has been recognised in inquiries following the Cudlee Creek, Yorketown and Kangaroo Island fires. In fact, these inquiries identified the need to better coordinate FFUs with emergency services to ensure a common approach as well as the safety and welfare of everyone on the fireground.

Once registered, operators will need to log-on and log-off at a fireground. FFUs will also be included in catering, welfare, water supply, insurance and safety arrangements while operating with CFS crews.

GPSA acknowledges there are some concerns among growers with this scheme. However, there is considerable merit in the trial. GPSA wants to hear from growers involved in the trial so we can work with government to make changes in the future, if required.

The system will be trialed until the end of the 2021-2022 fire danger season, with ongoing feedback sought to ensure FFU operators are part of the CFS response to fires across the state.

Visit the CFS website for more information.


Click on the links below to download these resources:

The GFDI SA Grain Harvesting Code of Practice – PDF document

For more information, visit the CFS website here.

Grain Harvesting Operations Table – available for download and as a sticker for your header (email GPSA)

Grain Producers SA and Country Fire Service Know Your Code checklist – PDF document

SACFS Private Farm Fire Unit Handbook – PDF document

GRDC Back Pocket Guide: Reducing Harvester Fire Risk – PDF document (4mb)

GRDC Articles and Videos

GRDC video: Ben Wundersitz, Anna Binna, Maitland, on his preparation to reduce fire risk

GRDC article: Proactive approach to fire prevention on YP

GRDC article: Know Your Code before entering the paddock this harvest

GRDC article: Talking and personal connection important in tough times

Keep your droplets to yourself

Spray drift

Crop protection chemical application is fundamental to conservation and sustainable cropping systems, helping to control weeds, diseases, and pests to maximise crop yield and quality. A major risk of poor chemical application is spray drift. There is a substantial risk of damage to surrounding sensitive areas on both your own and on neighbouring businesses. Non-target sensitive areas include viticulture and horticulture crops, broadacre crops and pastures, waterways, native vegetation, animals and local townships. Growers must adopt industry accepted best practice strategies and equipment to eliminate spray drift and off-target damage.

Poor chemical application practices, such as spraying in the wrong weather conditions (i.e., hazardous temperature inversions), at high speed or incorrect equipment set-up can result in spray droplets drifting tens of kilometres from the application site. Off target spray damage must be prevented at all costs. Spray drift can cause economic damage to others, damage to the environment and communities and places unnecessary pressure on ensuring future responsible access to current and new chemistry.

Read the tips to stop spray drift below or download a PDF version of the Factsheet here.

Read about the measures Andrew Biele takes to minimise spray drift and off-target damage

The need to eliminate spray drift within farmers’ own boundaries, let alone to neighbouring properties, is becoming more and more prominent as crop rotations become more diverse, according to Mallee grower Andrew Biele.

Andrew is the operations manager for Bulla Burra, a collaborative enterprise spread over properties between Loxton and Alawoona.

With vineyards and almond and citrus orchards dotted throughout the Riverland and northern Mallee, Andrew is conscious of the effect off-target chemicals could have on neighbouring enterprises.

However, with up to 50 per cent of Bulla Burra’s planting now consisting of legumes and oilseeds, he says they cannot afford to have off-target issues within their own enterprises, let alone anywhere else.

“We’ve got many different crop types within our own boundaries now, so we want to look after our own crops,” Andrew said.

“But it’s also important agriculture and horticulture work together. We’re all producing food for the community and need to ensure this is produced to the highest standards.”

There are a number of measures Bulla Burra takes to help eliminate the potential for spray drift.

“Temperature inversions are a risk for spray drift and these can place us and our neighbours at risk of off-target damage so spraying should be avoided if certain conditions arise,” Andrew said.

“In our region, dawn and dusk are the highest risk times, particularly if it is very calm and warm. You can guarantee there will be an inversion of some sort during these periods. For our operators, we recommend simply not spraying or stopping spraying in any of these conditions arise.

“Wind direction and speed at the time of spraying are also key.

“We continually monitor wind direction with a hand-held weather meter. We are looking for speeds above 3 kilometres an hour because some wind is needed to ensure the spray hits the ground.

“We are that cautious that we continually monitor weather throughout our application period. It might take us five days to finish spraying one paddock, but we are dedicated to safety.

“Our staff are required to check the online server for weather and then ground truth it with our internal weather monitoring devices, such as the hand-held Kestrel. We check and record conditions every hour and respond according to the changing conditions. If in any doubt, we stop.

 “We keep individual paddock diaries and record all details on an hourly basis. Our systems are both hand written and electronically kept for best practice.

“Keeping equipment up-to-date is also important, particularly when it comes to nozzle technology. We use air induction nozzles for our summer spraying which have a coarse to very coarse droplet size so there is less chance of drift. We also use additives to reduce the spray fines.”

Andrew says reducing ground speed when spraying has also made a huge difference in regard to spray drift.

“We have reduced our ground speed to ensure we get better droplet size management,” he said. “So long as we are still working within the pressure parameters of the nozzles we are using then it works well.”

All Bulla Burra staff participate in training so they are aware of best practice spray application techniques.

“All our staff are ChemCert accredited, this give them an insight into droplet sizes, speeds, weather and how to predict weather conditions which helps our team become best practice operators.

“We are also very strict with our staff adhering to the label requirements of any chemicals used, this ensures they understand the operation requirements of the specific chemical and keep our team and our neighbours safe.”

Details: Andrew Biele, 0439 927 782, andrewbiele@bigpond.com

Read about what advice Peter Cousins has to minimise spray drift and off-target damage

Increasing droplet size is key in reducing spray drift, according to Mid North-based consultant Peter Cousins, Crystal Brook.

Peter says increasing water rates and choosing the right nozzles are important in increasing droplet size. He also encourages growers to keep the boom height low and reduce ground speed to help them reduce the risk of spray drift.

“One thing I encourage growers to do is to get someone else to operate your system for a run, then you can get out in the paddock and assess how your spray rig is operating,” he said.

“Critically assess what your spray pattern looks like. You should be making sure your spray is hitting the ground and ensuring that there is no drift behind the boom. If there is, make adjustments to reduce drift, recheck the weather and operating conditions and stop if necessary.

“If weather conditions are suitable for spraying and you still have drift you need to change your operating and rig set up.

“First, look at what type of nozzles you are using, making sure the nozzles are operating at the correct pressure or as per the manufacturer or label recommendations. Also look at the droplet size and increase if necessary.

“Then look at the boom height, best practice is to sit the boom 50 centimetres above the target.

“Operating speed is also important. As a general rule of thumb, aim for 14 to 22km per hour. But first and foremost, keep an eye on changing weather conditions and stop if in doubt, especially if at risk of an inversion.”

Peter encourages growers to educate themselves about temperature inversions and their effects on spray drift.

“Reading inversion conditions can be difficult, but if growers can get some information such as what is provided by the GRDC then that will help them to get a better idea as to when they should or should not be spraying,” he says.

“Inversions occur on most nights 1.5 hours before sunset and up to 1.5 hours after sunrise, unless there is a continuing wind speed of over 11km per hour through the night or if it’s overcast.

“Do not spray when there is no wind, you need at least 3km per hour at all times. You can continue to spray up to 18km per hour. Using your own, or regional specific, real-time weather systems is also recommended to ensure spray decisions are based on the best available information.

“Take the weather conditions in the paddock continually throughout the spray operation, growers should check at least once every hour and are encouraged to use both a hand-held device and a reliable online weather forecasting service. These details should be recorded in a spray diary.”

Along with fellow Mid North-based consultant Mick Faulkner, Peter was instrumental in getting funding from the State Government to set up a network of weather stations across the Mid North.

The Mid North Mesonet gives growers access to weather data, such as temperature, wind speed and even when temperature inversions are developing.

This specific combination of data helps growers make informed decisions and minimise the risk of spray drift.

Peter says there is an onus on growers to self-regulate when it comes to spraying, similar to how they have in regard to the grassland fire danger index (GFDI) during harvest.

“Essentially, growers need to recognise that they have a responsibility to hit their target and reduce spray drift,” he said.

“It is also important to stress the importance of following the crop protection product label so their application technique meets the legal requirements.”

Details: Peter Cousins, 0408 210 893, couspilk@bigpond.net.au

Applying 2,4-D

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority issued a permit in October 2018 which describe the instructions for using products containing 2,4-D. In summary:

  • Products containing 2,4-D must be applied using a Very Coarse spray quality. From 1 October to 15 April, the APVMA advises using an Extremely Coarse or Ultra Coarse spray quality in cereal, fallow or pasture.
  • There are mandatory no spray zones or downwind buffers to aquatic areas and terrestrial vegetation as well as specific instructions and larger no spray zones for aerial applications.
  • Additional record keeping is required, including boom height.

For more information, refer to the GRDC’s Maintaining efficacy with larger droplets – New 2,4-D application requirements fact sheet.


There are a number of resources relating to spray drift which spray applicators can access.

Further information on spray drift is also available on the APVMA website.

GRDC resources

GRDC spray application series
GRDC spray drift webinar recording


Australia is party to the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change. Many multinational companies who buy and consume of South Australian produce (many we as farmers currently use) are Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting. Regardless of their personal views on climate and sustainability, grain producers need to be prepared for the ESG demands of consumers to ensure they continue to have access to these valuable markets.

GPSA is aware of the compliance required to trade canola in the European market, but also banks and most grain traders are increasingly looking at sourcing sustainable products. GPSA believes SA grain growers produce the most sustainable product in Australia and the World. GPSA will continue to inform and look for opportunities to establish and promote our sustainable product. We believe the advantages are market access and securing some high value markets.

There may be valuable opportunities in the future for SA growers to participate in carbon and natural capital markets. This may be achieved by improving traceability and compliance, looking at opportunities to change practice to mitigate emissions and achieve better farm gate pricing, while remaining a trusted source of the highest quality grain.

Heavy Vehicle Safety

Moving Ag Machinery … Made Easy!

Representatives from primary production, machinery dealerships, logistics and government have come together as part of a new project led by Grain Producers SA with the united goal of improving road safety and making compliance easier for primary producers.

This project will be seeking to understand what issues producers have in understanding the National Class 1 Agricultural Vehicle and Combination Mass and Dimension Exemption Notice 2020 (No.1)  and, if their machinery falls outside of the notice, educate them on accessing the relevant permit through the NHVR Portal. It will also be an important feedback mechanism for all levels of government to understand the issues facing those moving agricultural vehicles and combinations to meet statutory requirements.

The Moving Ag Machinery … Made Easy! project will gather feedback from across the commodity spectrum to help inform improvements, training and resources aimed at primary producers who access the NHVR Portal for permits.

Growers and industry stakeholders are encouraged to complete a short survey to help inform project outcomes, including to improve road access, have input into NHVR Portal training and better inform policy makers and regulators. The survey is available here.

This information will be captured in an action plan that will inform workshops, training and educational resources for primary producers.

Training Primary Producers in How to Access Roads with Agricultural Vehicles and Combinations

The NHVR Portal is an online system that streamlines the way industry prepares, lodges and tracks their road permit applications

GPSA seeks a training organisation to design and deliver for a program to assist primary producers in using the functionality of the NHVR Portal, including applications for a Class 1 agricultural vehicle permit.

To provide your tender response/quote go: here

Questions can be directed to Shane Gale: M: 0439 409 751 E: shane@grainproducerssa.com.au

The Moving Ag Machinery … Made Easy! project is funded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, supported by the Federal Government.

Roadworthy Heavy Vehicles… Made Easy!

Grain Producers SA is delivering FREE Roadworthy Heavy Vehicles … Made Easy! workshops designed specifically to help primary producers members of PPSA to understand heavy vehicle roadworthiness requirements.

Theory and practical workshops provide attendees with a free copy of the NHVR Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual, and expert education about road safety, compliance and maintenance responsibilities.

Upcoming Workshop:

Read a case study with Eudunda grower Anthony Pfitzner

Grain Producers SA’s Roadworthy Heavy Vehicles … Made Easy! workshops have emphasised the importance of good record keeping when it comes to heavy vehicle maintenance, a practice Anthony Pfitzner will now implement in his business.

Anthony and his family farm cereals and sheep on 2200 hectares, 10 kilometres west of Eudunda.

The Pfitzners run several trucks on their property, including an old 1996 Scania 113 tipper and trailer.

Anthony attended the theory and practical workshops held at Riverton in July as he wanted to expand his knowledge on heavy vehicle inspections and compliance responsibilities.

“We have staff who regularly drive our trucks and I want to ensure my vehicles are safe and roadworthy for them,” he said.

“We have a basic understanding of what maintenance we should look out for on our trucks but there can be little things which should not be ignored.

“We need to be taking responsibility of the condition of our vehicle and ensure regular maintenance is being completed.”

Record keeping, even of daily and weekly maintenance checks of the truck, was highlighted as an important practice for growers to adopt.

“The record keeping doesn’t need to be fancy,” Anthony said.

“We just need to make sure we record what we have checked, along with what the mechanic is doing, to provide peace of mind and proof in case something happens involving the vehicle.”

Anthony volunteered to take his Scania tipper to the practical workshop at Vin Callery Transport in Riverton for the practical inspection.

Vin Callery Transport’s Chris Callery said he ran through the inspection checklist he uses for annual inspections with attendees during the practical workshop.

“We set Anthony’s truck up over a pit so the attendees could look under the tipper,” he said.

“As I was inspecting the truck, I highlighted any issues I saw to the growers.

“No farm truck will ever be perfect. However, this workshop provided growers with a basic outline of the necessities to be able to pass a heavy vehicle inspection.”

Anthony found the workshops very valuable and said all primary producers should get involved to improve their knowledge.

“We get our mechanic to do annual checks on the truck, but we don’t get to sit and go through the inspection and what to look for in great detail with them like we could in the practical workshop,” he said.

“I think farmers get a bad reputation for having unroadworthy trucks on the road and that has made truck maintenance sound like a bit of a scary thing to them.

“Whatever goes on the road needs to be roadworthy, whether that be a farm-to-farm truck or a truck carting grain and hay on the highway.

“It’s important for us as farmers to take responsibility for heavy vehicle roadworthiness.”

Contact: Anthony Pfitzner, 0429 811 984, gwgfarm@bigpond.com; Chris Callery, 0418 847 957, christophercallery@bigpond.com

Read a case study with Cowell grower Robert Norris

Attending theory and practical Roadworthy Heavy Vehicles … Made Easy workshops reinforced the basic understanding Robert Norris and his sons-in-law had of their truck’s roadworthiness.

Farming cereals and sheep at Cowell on the Eyre Peninsula, Robert and his sons-in-law James Martin (pictured) and David Gray run a 1985 Volvo N12 prime mover which pulls a single tipper at seeding and harvest.

Robert and James attended the workshops as they were curious to know if their truck would comply under the criteria of the Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual.

“We attended the theory workshop at Cowell in March and, following that, we volunteered to take our truck to the practical workshop at Quinn Transport, Cleve,” Robert said.

“That workshop was really useful for us. It helped us identify what to look for when doing maintenance and what the problems were with the truck.

“We knew we had to do some work on the bushes and brake linings on the trailer, which we had planned to do as part of our general maintenance anyway, but from the free inspection at the workshop we found out we really only needed to replace the windscreen washer fluid reservoir and a cracked headlight.”

Despite its age, Robert said his truck is still holding up well from a compliance perspective.

“If you do regular maintenance on the important things such as brakes, steering and tyres – which is what everyone should be doing anyway, regardless of whether the truck is old or new – then you won’t run into too many issues,” he said.

“That is probably something James and David learned from the workshops; despite it being an older truck, it is still safe and only needs some basic repairs.”

Robert said he would recommend other producers attend the Roadworthy Heavy Vehicles … Made Easy workshops when they re-commence.

“Whether you only have a basic understanding or a good understanding, the presenters at the workshops are great at explaining all the requirements under Heavy Vehicle National Law and addressing any questions we farmers might have about roadworthiness,” he said.

The theory and practical workshops are designed for members of Primary Producers SA who own and operate their own heavy vehicles and help to deliver on our commitment to road safety.

Theory workshops are led by road transport experts who have a comprehensive knowledge of quality management and national heavy vehicle maintenance systems, to provide primary producers with:

  • Outline of the NHVR Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual
  • Road safety awareness
  • Producer compliance and maintenance responsibilities
  • Requirements of the regulator
  • Possible changes that may be introduced SA’s Heavy Vehicle Inspection Scheme

In addition, all theory workshop participants have the opportunity to take part in a practical workshop to receive valuable hints and tips on keeping heavy vehicle’s roadworthy.

Early registrants may have the opportunity to have their own vehicle’s roadworthiness checked for FREE as part of each theory workshop (spots are limited).

Primary producers who attend the workshops will receive training and knowledge which will be essential in helping them to develop a tailored approach to heavy vehicle maintenance, inspections and compliance on vehicles involved in their farm businesses.

The Roadworthy Heavy Vehicles… Made Easy! campaign has been funded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative Program, with the support of the Federal Government.

Anyone who has attended a theory workshop is eligible to get their heavy vehicle inspected for free by one of the practical workshop providers, which are listed below.

  • Quinn Transport, Cleve
  • Cummins Garage, Cummins
  • Schultz Mechanical Repairs, Clare
  • KADS Truck ‘N Diesel, Angaston
  • Docking Mechanical Services, Kimba
  • CC Truck Repairs, Moonta
  • Tatiara Truck & Trailers, Bordertown
  • Rudall Motors, Rudall
  • Greatbatch Agencies, Wirrulla
  • Vin Callery Transport, Riverton
  • Emmetts, Kadina
  • Kelly Bros Pty Ltd, Jamestown
  • J L&M W Hein Engineering & Auto Repairs, Streaky Bay
  • Wishart Contractors, Loxton
  • Moore Mechanical, Murray Bridge
  • Moars, Tooperang

Chain of Responsibility… Made Easy!

In early 2019, GPSA held interactive, FREE and practical workshops for our members, and all Primary Producers SA commodity group members, in conjunction with industry experts Natwide Personnel.

These workshops have helped to:

  • Educate farmers about what the new chain of responsibility laws mean for farm practices when using heavy vehicles on public roads,
  • Ensure compliance for all members of the farming business, and
  • Provide attendees with the opportunity to question and seek expert advice on their farm situations.
  • Following attendance, farmers received support and advice from Natwide for the following 12 months

This program was made possible by support from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative Program.

An overview of the project is available here. A copy of the presentation to members is available here.