Keep Australia’s exports clean

Posted in Agronomy alert on Sep 22, 2015

If stock are grazed on pulse stubble treated with pesticides, growers and advisors must adhere strictly to the withholding period (WHP) and Export Slaughter Interval (ESI). (Photo: Cindy Benjamin)

Keep Australia’s exports clean

Observe MRL and ESI regulations when feeding pulse grain and stubble

by Cindy Benjamin

Grazing faba bean and lupin stubble provides growers across southern Australia with an opportunity to boost livestock productivity and farm profits.

Pulse Australia industry development manager, Mary Raynes says that sheep grazing pulse stubble or unharvested crops can achieve excellent growth rates, particularly while there is sufficient grain available. However there are legal maximum residue limits (MRL) to comply with, along with some animal health risks.

Grain growers are well aware that pulse crops are a high value commodity and a key component in maintaining high export market quality grain is protecting the plants from potential fungal disease and insect damage.

Crop protection chemicals are an essential part of most farming systems but there are strict guidelines involved with their use. To minimise the risk of chemical residues in the food supply chain the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has set maximum residue limits (MRLs) that produce must comply with.

The MRLs set by the APVMA are for produce that is consumed in Australia. Other countries may accept the Australian MRL for imported produce or they may have their own specifications, which may differ significantly from ours. Ms Raynes says this represents a potential risk for export markets, depending upon the destination country and their requirements. “One way to mitigate this risk is to use a ‘commodity (or grower) vendor declaration’ that is handed to the buyer upon delivery of the grain,” she says.

“These declarations must list all crop protection products that have been used on the crop, including the rate used, date of application and the date of harvest,” she says. “If an exporter is aware that a particular product, which may be considered to be sensitive in certain markets, has been used then they can place the grain into other markets that will accept the Australian permit and MRL.”

If stock are grazed on pulse stubble treated with pesticides growers and advisors must adhere strictly to the withholding period (WHP) and if the stock are going to be sent to export markets, growers need to able to demonstrate complete traceability of pesticide application and adhere to the Export Slaughter Interval (ESI) requirements.

“The ESI for faba bean stubble and grain treated with chlorothalonil is a minimum of 63 days (9 weeks),” says Ms Raynes.

Pulse Australia applies for APVMA minor and emergency use permits on behalf of the industry to provide growers with legal chemical options and management tools that are not otherwise available to meet the crop protection needs of many crops.

It is critical that growers correctly follow the instructions on the minor or emergency use permit including rates, application timing and number of applications. Withholding periods to harvest must also be observed to ensure that MRLs are not exceeded.

What happens if an MRL violation is detected at a foreign port?

Where an importing country detects a residue violation in a shipment, the grain may be rejected outright, or future shipments of that grain from Australia may be subjected to increased sampling and testing.

“The costs incurred from this increased sampling activity may be passed on to the Australian exporter, who may then try to recover costs from the handler or the individual grower who supplied the grain,” says Ms Raynes.

Australia’s international reputation rests on growers observing withholding periods at harvest to ensure MRL compliance. (Photo: Cindy Benjamin)

“In addition to the material costs to the parties involved, the reputation of Australia’s grain is significantly smeared, a situation that may take many years to rectify. Repeated violations may mean complete loss of access to that valued export market.”

Ms Raynes says that if a grower holds a contract with a buyer and the need arises to use a fungicide that has recently been granted an emergency use permit, such as Prosaro in lentil or chickpea, then it is a good idea for the grower to check with the contracted buyer prior to the application of the pesticide.

“By using only registered or permitted products growers are protecting both their own livelihood and Australia’s international trade reputation,” she says.

A list of current permits for pulse crops can be found on the Pulse Australia website.

For more information please contact Mary Raynes, Pulse Australia (Industry Development Manager – Southern) on 0408 591 193 or by email or visit

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