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Beyond the Bale : Oct 07 - Nov 07
with clean, low-residue fibre and following through to the use of safe, biodegradable chemicals in processing. The low, but achievable, concentrations required for wool carrying the EU Eco-label are less than 0.5 milligrams per kilogram of organochlorines and synthetic pyrethroids and less than 2.0mg/kg of organophosphates and insect growth regulators such as diflubenzuron and triflumuron. In addition to allowing the 'clean, green and sustainable' marketing of wool products, the EU Eco-label also allows European wool processors to meet their IPPC reporting needs. If European scourers and dye-houses buy wool that is compliant with the EU Eco-label requirements, they will be able to prove their discharges have not damaged the environment. In Australia, individual woolgrowers can monitor the status of their clip by paying for residue testing themselves, and Dr Russell expects that demand will increase as the EU IPPC directive comes into force after October 2007. Wool that complies with the Eco-label standard can then be issued with a pesticide test certificate and sold into eco- wool supply chains. AWI animal health and welfare project manager Dr Johann Schröder says the annual survey has helped sensitise Australian wool producers to the fact that they have to take care with chemical use because of the potential impact that residues can have on their end-product and target export markets. "At this stage, the Eco-label is related to the EU, but it's quite conceivable that other export destination markets in the future might also develop similar environmental standards that will impact on the quality of the wool that we export," Dr Schröder says. "Sixty per cent of our greasy wool goes to China and it will only be a matter of time before they decide it has to comply with particular criteria." Dr Russell says growers can reduce chemical residues in their clip by avoiding synthetic pyrethroids and organophosphates late in the growing season, as well as off- shears backliners -- the most common reason wools fail the "Some of the shearing trainers are 'cutting edge' and it does everyone good to see them in action and learn. We even take on a few shearer trainees these days and that helps the longevity of the industry." But the most crucial element, say the Hendersons, is to foster a feeling of team effort. "It's critical that everyone understands how everyone on the team has an important role to play and no one is more important than anyone else. A good wool handler can have just as great an impact on the clip as a good shearer." Mike and Rachel, a wool handler herself, have both had success with competition shearing and they encourage their staff to enter competitions. In 1999, Rachel was a member of the Australian Wool Handling Team and Mike of the Australian Shearing Team, both of which won the Trans- Tasman test at New Zealand's Golden Shears event. Mike was also Australian champion shearer in 1997. "Competing helps you gain efficiency, and we encourage staff to work overseas when it is quiet here. They learn a lot from that experience." The Hendersons' business handles runs ranging from 30,000 sheep right down to single pet sheep owned by hobby farmers. "As we like to keep our core group of employees in work all year, we sometimes say 'yes' to anything. I think EU Eco-label low-residue requirements. With a thorough understanding of the impacts of particular pesticide treatments, growers can target their wool sales to appropriate markets according to the season, he says. "We're not saying 'don't use pesticides' -- they are an important weapon in controlling pests on-farm," he says. "We're just saying that if you've had a good season, understand the residue consequences of opening that can of chemicals. If you've used low-residue practices, identify your wool and go for the environmentally friendly market." Meanwhile, AWI is working on integrating complementary pest-control procedures to reduce chemical use, Dr Schröder says. "AWI is involved in a whole raft of additional measures, such as integrated parasite management to reduce dependence on chemicals. Eventually, if only a very small portion of a flock required chemical treatment, then the entire clip of the country would continue to comply with Eco-label requirements." -- MELISSA MARINO consistent employment and the fact we are in a good location, on the coast, makes the work attractive," Mike adds.He also acknowledges the importance of supportive woolgrowers. "They have really helped in making the team's work easier. Because of the capital outlay for growers, we now own wool presses, port-a-loos and even shearing motors, which they can rent from us for shearing. We even bring our own air conditioners." ú More information: Mike Henderson, hendos@westnet. com.au, www.shearingworld.com/mh.htm 13 WOOL HARVESTING BEYOND THE BALE One of Mike Henderson's shearing teams.
Aug 07 - Sep 07 Supplement
Dec - Jan 08