Barrie Gale brings light to the potential dangers of farming chemicals

SAFETY: Galaxy Park's Barrie Gale with just some of his chemical safety gear. Photo: Nick Grimm.
SAFETY: Galaxy Park's Barrie Gale with just some of his chemical safety gear. Photo: Nick Grimm.

The use of chemicals on farms has increased in recent years, and one farmer wants to spread the word about potential safety issues surrounding them.

For National Farm Safety Week, which runs from July 17-21, Barrie Gale of Galaxy Park in Monarto South has said that everybody knows the dangers of heavy-duty farm machinery, but that the dangers of farming chemicals seem to fly under the radar. 

“Motorbikes, quadbikes, utes, sprayers and whatever else – they’re widely known dangers,” he said.

Mr Gale said he isn’t trying to undercut other potential farming dangers, but simply trying to raise awareness about the chemical side of things.   

These chemicals are potentially the most dangerous thing we as farmers have to work with, and they’ve fast become one of the things we work with the most.

Barrie Gale

“Chemicals are a vital part of the cropping program now, but my dad farmed for years and he can’t believe the amount of work that gets done with chemicals now.”

To purchase and spray chemicals, farmers have to be properly trained and educated. 

“We have to get a ChemCert accreditation, which is a full-day course and lasts for a few years. Without the accreditation, you can’t legally buy the chemicals and you aren’t meant to spray at all,” Mr Gale said.  

Mr Gale said, due to not only growing barley and wheat, insecticides have become the go-to asset.

“The really strong S7 insecticides are what we have to use to keep all of the bugs off of the legumes, because they’d ruin entire crops if we didn’t,” he said.

The level of care that must be put into mixing and spraying the chemicals safely is what Mr Gale wanted to bring to light. 

“These chemicals are potentially the most dangerous thing we as farmers have to work with, and they’ve fast become one of the things we work with the most.”

Mr Gale said the insecticides are so dangerous because of how they can react with humans. 

“The S7s are designed to kill bugs that have a neuron system, and obviously we have a neuron system, so if we aren’t careful the effects could be very dangerous.” 

He said harmful symptoms are rarely immediate, and that’s why farmers have to do all they can to reduce long term exposure to toxic chemicals.

“One day someone might breathe in some more of the spray they’ve breathed for years and they’ll get a headache when they’ve never had one like that before.”