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Guidelines for safe use of agricultural and veterinary chemicals

1. Use the appropriate registered chemical product

Identify the problem and make sure you are using the appropriate registered chemical product. The instructions on the approved product label show the crop, animal or situation for which the product can be used and the pests and diseases that can be controlled.

Information on registered agricultural and veterinary chemical products is provided by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

2. Read the product label and follow instructions

Users of agricultural and veterinary chemical products are required by law to use them according to the instructions on the approved label.

The Agricultural Chemical Users' Manual provides expert advice on using agricultural chemicals efficiently and safely.

3. Read and understand the material safety data sheet (MSDS)

Employers are required by health and safety laws to hold MSDSs for the chemical products they use. These MSDSs can be obtained from the supplier when products are purchased. Read the MSDS carefully before using or storing chemical products and follow the instructions carefully when applying, handling or storing products.

4. Obtain the appropriate licences, permits and training


A commercial operator's licence and/or a ground distribution contractor licence is required to use ground equipment to apply herbicides on someone else's property. A pilot chemical rating licence and/or an aerial distribution contractor licence is required for aerial application of agricultural chemicals.

For more information about licences see Licensing and permits .


A permit issued by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is required before:

  • using a registered agricultural or veterinary chemical product for an off-label use, that is, one that is not covered by an instruction on the approved product label
  • using an agricultural or veterinary chemical product that is not registered
  • carrying out research trials with agricultural or veterinary chemical products to generate data for registration or other scientific purposes.

You can obtain more information from the APVMA website.

Permits for hazardous areas

A distribution permit is required from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries before using certain volatile herbicides in any of the three declared hazardous areas in Queensland. You must also be a licensed operator. Use of these herbicides in these areas will be subject to conditions of use attached to the distribution permit.

For more information on hazardous area herbicide distribution permits, see Licensing and permits .

Training and accreditation

Some industries have codes of practice or best practice management programs that recommend their growers be accredited in the use of agricultural or veterinary chemicals. A number of training courses available in Queensland.

5. Understand workplace health and safety

Follow workplace health and safety requirements and the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for chemical, handling and storage.

For more information, see the workplace health and safety section of the Department of Justice and the Attorney-General.

6. Understand how pesticides work and use the correct chemical application equipment

Ensure you are using the correct chemical application equipment for the particular pest control situation, and ensure the equipment is correctly calibrated.

For more information, refer to the Agricultural Chemical Users' Manual .

7. Keep accurate records

Accurate records will help you maximise the benefits of using agricultural or veterinary chemical products. Keeping certain records is required by law.

For more information about making and keeping records, see Licensing and permits .

8. Prevent spray drift

Spray drift can result in crop damage, injury to livestock or environmental damage, and can be a threat to human health. Correct application techniques will help minimise spray drift.

For more information, see the Agricultural Chemical Users' Manual .

9. Discuss your chemical spray plans with neighbours

Discuss your plans with neighbours and spraying contractors, and keep in touch with what is happening around you, including other people's plans to use agricultural or veterinary chemical products.

10. Reduce your reliance on pesticides

Investigate other pest management strategies.

See more information on the Australasian Biological Control website.

Further information

Last updated 08 May 2013