Australian farmers are heavily reliant on the use of pesticides to control weeds, diseases, and insect pests, collectively known as agripests.
In some industries, pesticides are the first option when managing pests, rather than a last resort. They are not only applied as aerial sprays after a pest has been detected but are coated on seeds and soil as a ‘just-in-case’ application, well before any outbreak is detected.
And the trend is becoming worse. Data on pesticide use is patchy, but national pesticide sales of herbicides have increased 34%, insecticides 22% and fungicides 49% (2013/14 to 2020/21) and use per dollar-value of our agricultural production has increased 67% over the last 30 years. At the same time, other OECD countries have removed some pesticides from use and are trying to re-structure their farming systems to accommodate the loss.
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