Pesticide education and monitoring campaigns and investigations

To ensure pesticides are used safely and effectively, we run campaigns focussed on educating people about the correct use of pesticides. We also investigate allegations of pesticide misuse and determine if further compliance and enforcement action is needed.

Pesticides including herbicides, fungicides and insecticides have an important role to play in agriculture and horticulture. However, if they are not used correctly these chemicals can drift and may result in harm to human health, off-target animals or plants and damage to nearby crops, communities or the environment.

To regulate the use of pesticides and reduce incidents of spray drift across the state, we use tools including education, monitoring and penalties.

We are engaging with peak industry bodies, landholders, community members and agronomists to better understand the impacts, challenges and factors leading to spray drift and how we can work together to protect our environment.


In 2023, EPA Officers conducted high-visibility compliance and education campaigns about pesticide use in agricultural regions.

The campaigns remind landholders, farmers and crop sprayers that they always need to take appropriate precautions to prevent potential impacts to their neighbours and their community when using pesticides.

The focus is on promoting good spraying practices, safe storage of pesticides, proper record-keeping and providing advice and resources to local growers on best practice spraying behaviours.  

Our message is that everyone using pesticides has both a legal and moral obligation to avoid spray drift.

From May-October 2023, EPA representatives attended agricultural field days in Mudgee, the Riverina, Gunnedah, Henty and Borenore to engage with farmers, landholders and other stakeholders on pesticide use and preventing spray drift. 

Over summer, the EPA is carrying out several targeted pesticide compliance and education campaigns for broadacre pesticide users in Moree and Walgett in the Northern Slopes, as well as targeting intensive horticulture in the Woolgoolga region near Coffs Harbour and Tintenbar in the Ballina Shire.

Outcomes from these campaigns are expected in 2024.

Macquarie Valley monitoring program
The areas visited include the Macquarie Valley (Narromine and Warren), the Northwest Slopes (Narrabri, Moree Plains and Walgett) and regions in Southwest NSW (Carrathool, Griffith, Murrumbidgee and Leeton).

Woolgoolga compliance inspections
We inspected 40 horticultural operations in the Woolgoolga area during 2021 – 23. 


The EPA regulates the use of pesticides in NSW from the point of sale onwards, so is responsible for investigating pesticide misuse. EPA investigations assess

  • reported or detected incidents of alleged environmental harm
  • other breaches of the legislation that could harm human health or the health of companion animals

During an investigation, EPA-authorised officers gather

  • evidence of the incident to establish whether an offence has occurred
  • if there has been an offence, investigate its severity
  • identify those responsible for the offence by taking videos, photographs, collecting samples and recording witness statements and interviews

The key legislation for regulating pesticide use in NSW is the Pesticides Act 1999 and Pesticides Regulation 2017.

EPA authorised officers normally conduct site inspections which can be arranged in advance or undertaken unannounced. During an inspection, an authorised EPA officer may

  • interview the business owner
  • view or request specific information to be provided such as pesticide application records
  • collect samples
  • take photographs

When any breaches of the laws are identified during a site inspection, an authorised officer can

  • issue advisory letters
  • issue formal warnings
  • issue official cautions
  • issue clean up notices
  • issue penalty notices
  • in worst case scenarios, prosecute the offender

The type of regulatory action taken depends on

  • the severity of the offence
  • whether previous issues that were identified were not addressed
  • if previous regulatory action has been taken

Following inspections, the EPA will provide

  • recommendations to improve best practice
  • environmental guidance to help industry meet their legislative requirements

Information gathered during a campaign can also contribute to future EPA strategies and policies.

For more information, see the  EPA Compliance Policy.



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