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Modelling pesticide residues on greasy wool: using organophosphate and synthetic pyrethroid survey data

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 06:12 authored by Plant, JW, Brian HortonBrian Horton, Armstrong, RTF, Campbell, NJ
Several surveys have examined the relationship between organophosphate and synthetic pyrethroid residues in wool and associated treatments. These have been combined and summarised using a model of on-farm survey data. The model estimated the amount of chemical taken up by the wool at application. This was based on experimental breakdown rates of these pesticides on wool determined in controlled trials. For about 10% of survey results the chemical measured on the wool did not match the chemical the producer said was applied. A further 5% of results were excluded because the amount of chemical detected on the wool was inconsistent with the stated time of treatment and shearing. With the remaining results there was a very high variation in residues resulting from the same (stated) treatment. It is clear that many producers do not know what chemicals they have used or how much they applied. The wide variation in results suggests that some producers may apply excessive amounts of pesticides while others use too little to have a useful effect. The model estimated the amount of pesticide taken up by the fleece using the residue left at shearing and the known breakdown rate for a given method and chemical group. When organophosphates were applied by dipping, the amount of chemical taken up by the fleece appeared to increase as the length of the wool increased. This was generally higher than would be anticipated from label dose rates but was consistent with the stripping characteristics of these chemicals. Therefore dipping as soon as possible after shearing left much lower residues (<10 mg/kg wool) than delayed treatment (often 10-30 mg/kg wool). In contrast the survey results suggest that the amount retained by sheep as a result of jetting decreased in longer wool. Jetting treatment rates appear to be lower than recommended, particularly for sheep with more than 6 months wool. Therefore jetting (as used by producers) left much lower residues in wool than dipping (with similar length wool) and was usually only above 10 mg/kg wool if carried out in the last 5 months before shearing, or if the same sheep received repeated treatments. The residue of synthetic pyrethroid retained in the fleece after dipping or long wool backliner application increased as the length of the wool increased at treatment, and appeared generally consistent with label recommendations. Current long wool backline products usually left residues of synthetic pyrethroid above 10 mg/kg on the wool. Short wool dipping left less than 10 mg/kg wool while off-shears backliners usually left average residue concentrations of about 2 mg/kg wool. Although the actual on-farm results vary 4-fold above and below the average, the model can be used to estimate the expected residue concentration and likely range of results from most standard on-farm organophosphate and synthetic pyrethroid treatments. This will allow improved provision of advice so that most producers can meet specified industry standards. It will allow wool buyers to estimate the risk of purchasing high residue wool based on producers' statements about treatments applied.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture








Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


C S I R O Publishing

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Sheep for wool

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