New Study Seeks to Understand Agri-Chemical Usage Across Victorian Farms

Farmers are the frontline of the annual battle against weeds and pests – and chemicals remain a common line of defence.

There are more than 8000 pesticides alone registered for use in Australia and 75 percent of those are for agricultural settings.*

Where, despite a barrage of best practice – and then better practice – advice, training and certification, the full impact of chemicals on the health and wellbeing of people using them or living around them remains largely unknown.

Deakin University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures and the National Centre for Farmer Health are leading a project to map the types of agrichemicals currently used in Victoria.

The variety of chemicals available to, and used by, farmers needs to be more thoroughly understood and that means we’re asking farmers to help this new project – to help themselves.

Project lead Associate Professor Robert Faggian says research results will be geographically mapped and be shared with agricultural industry organisations to further support and inform their health and safety information, resources and initiatives for the farming community.

The National Centre for Farmer Health’s Dr Jacquie Cotton said, through our work with farmers over many years, we know that people have an interest in chemical safety, chemical use and how they might be impacting their health. 

The more farmers who contribute to the project, the better the information and the better the long-term benefits through industry awareness and education.

She says participation for farmers is a simple – and anonymous – 15-minute online survey.

“All you need to do is tell us your most frequently used agrichemicals. Your contribution and participation in this project will help inform a proactive approach to keeping farmers healthy, informed and safe,” Dr Cotton says. 

“By mapping the use of particular chemicals we can tailor education and initiatives, so farmers are supported to continue using agrichemicals on-farm without putting their health, or the health of others who live and work on farm, at risk,” she says.

Participation in this research project is voluntary and it will cover general agrichemical use and hygiene, PPE (personal protection equipment) practices and description of any injuries or illness experienced during the use of agrichemicals.

 Although they are armed with pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers, spending billions and billions of dollars on them every year, in the protection and management of pastures, crops and livestock, there is little record of what goes where and when on a farm-by-farm or region-by-region basis.

Deakin University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures and the National Centre for Farmer Health are leading this WorkSafe Victoria-funded project as chemicals are one of four focus areas in the Agriculture Strategy 2020-23.

For more information or to access the survey visit 

Contact: Dr Jacquie Cotton Ph: 55518585

Media Contact 
Annabelle Macgugan