Plant product residue monitoring

Plant product residue monitoring is conducted as part of the National Residue Survey (NRS) by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, through a grains program and four horticulture programs.

Industry participation in these programs is voluntary and based on export and domestic market access and quality assurance objectives.

Outputs of NRS plant product residue monitoring include:

  • provision of independent, authoritative and technically-sound residue data, reports and advice on Australian grain and horticultural products
  • provision of residue monitoring data to support the specific market access requirements of participating industries
  • reports of contraventions to the relevant state/territory government regulatory authorities within agreed timeframes
  • a database of residue standards (grains, macadamia, almond, citrus and pome fruit) for key international markets
  • coordination of the Australian Grains Industry Post Harvest Chemical Usage Recommendations and Outturn Tolerances document which details the industry-agreed residue tolerances for domestic and overseas markets.

All plant product residue monitoring programs are designed, operated and reviewed within agreed budgets by the NRS in consultation with peak industry bodies.

Grains program

The grains program covers 21 grain commodities:

  • cereal grains (wheat, barley, oat, maize, sorghum, triticale)
  • pulses (chickpea, cow pea, pigeon pea, field pea, faba bean, lentil, vetch, navy bean, mung bean, lupin)
  • oilseeds (canola, sunflower, soybean, safflower, linseed)
  • milled fractions of wheat (whole grain, flour, bran)
  • wheat durum (whole grain, semolina, durum bran),
  • soybean (whole grain, flour, kibble)
  • maize (whole grain, flour and polenta).

The program comprises a range of sub-programs, which aim to cover all known export and domestic grain streams. These are:

  • export: bulk export, and export containers or bags
  • domestic: milled products, maltsters, oilseed crushers, stockfeed manufacturers, feedlots, and food processors.

The program is funded by a statutory 0.015 per cent ‘farm-gate-value’ levy on producers of participating grains. This is a component of the full 1.015 per cent grain levy which also funds the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and Plant Health Australia.

Sample collection and analysis

Samples are collected at grain handling establishments in accordance with NRS protocols and procedures using NRS sampling equipment.

Export grain samples are collected at export terminals and container packing facilities using automatic sampling equipment as the grain is loaded onto ships or into containers.

Samples of milling grain and their milled fractions are collected from domestic mills on randomly selected dates.
Milled fraction samples, such as flour, semolina, polenta, bran and kibble, are collected as the whole grain and milled. This way, the results provide information on the relative concentration of pesticide residues in each fraction.

Grain is also sampled on delivery to domestic users such as stock feed manufacturers, maltsters, feedlots, and oilseed and oat processors for human consumption.

Grain samples are freighted overnight directly to the contract analytical laboratory.

Chemical screens

All grain samples are subjected to a multi-residue chemical screen covering a range of pesticides and environmental contaminants. According to agreed industry sampling rates, a percentage of samples are also randomly subjected to an additional herbicide screen.

To see the full list of chemicals that the NRS test for please go the publications page and select the plant datasets section.

List of chemical screens used on grain samples
Screen Chemicals Examples
Multi-residue Insecticides 90 analytes including acephate, abamectin, bifenthrin, diazinon, malathion, pyrethrin and spinosad
Fungicides 56 analytes including azoxystrobin, boscalid, captan, iprodione, fludioxonil and propiconazole
Herbicides 59 analytes including atrazine, bromacil, clopyralid, isoxaben, norflurazon and simazine
Organochlorines aldrin and dieldrin, chlordane, DDT, endosulfan, endrin, HCB, heptachlor, lindane (gamma HCH) and mirex
Special herbicide Herbicides amitrole, dichlorprop-P, diclofop-methyl, diquat, fenoxaprop-ethyl, flamprop-M-methyl, fluazifop-p-butyl, glufosinate, glyphosate, haloxyfop, paraquat, quizalofop ethyl and quizalofop-p-tefuryl
Grain program results summary 2009–10 to 2018–19
Year Export Bulk Samples Compliance (%) Export Container Samples Compliance (%) Domestic Samples Compliance (%)
2009–10 2,673 99.8 827 98.3 514 98 .0
2010–11 3,302 99.8 821 98.9 1,107 98.4
2011–12 4,005 99.9 886 99.0 828 98.5
2012–13 3,802 99.8 1,229 98.9 806 97.2
2013-14 3,351 99.7 1,802 98.9 984 97.9
2014-15 3,452 99.9 2,034 98.8 753 97.5
2015-2016 2,900 99.8 2,284 98.9 1,006 96.1
2016-2017 4,166 99.8 3,755 99.0 892 97.3
2017-2018 2948 99.8 2029 99.0 880 97.4
2018-2019 2426 99.6 979 98.3 854 98.2

Detailed grains results tables by commodity.

Horticulture programs

The horticulture programs cover:

  • apple and pear (pome fruit)
  • almond
  • cherry
  • citrus
  • macadamia.

Sample collection and analysis

Samples can be collected directly from growers, packing houses or city fruit and vegetable markets. Each sampling plan aims to establish a nation-wide spread of samples covering as many producers as is practicable each year.

All horticulture samples are freighted overnight directly to the contracted analytical laboratory. If necessary, the laboratory then forwards samples to a second laboratory for additional analysis.

Chemical screens

All horticulture samples are subjected to a multi-residue screen which covers a range of fungicides, organophosphates, organochlorines, synthetic pyrethroids, herbicides and dithiocarbamates. The NRS, with the permission of the Apple and Pear industry, have commenced offering optional heavy metals and microbiological testing on pome fruit samples to collectors.

The multi-residue screen has been developed in consultation with all participating horticulture industry peak bodies.

According to agreed industry sampling rates, a set portion of almond and macadamia samples are also subjected to additional special herbicide, phosphine and/or heavy metals screening.

Apple program results summary 2009–10 to 2018-19
Year Samples Compliance (%)
2009–10 479 98.1
2010–11 420 100.0
2011–12 346 98.3
2012–13 299 100.0
2013–14 314 98.1
2014-15 294 98.6
2015-16 282 97.9
2016-17 248 98.0
2017-18 246 95.5
2018-19 245 98.4
Pear program results summary 2008–09 to 2018-19
Year Samples Compliance (%)
2008–09 136 100.0
2009–10 144 99.3
2010–11 150 98.7
2012–13 108 98.2
2013–14 110 100.0
2014-15 92 97.8
2015-16 94 95.7
2016-17 99 98.0
2017-18 85 90.6
2018-19 77 98.7
Macadamia program results summary 2009–10 to 2018-19
Year Samples Compliance (%)
2009–10 185 100
2010–11 186 100
2011–12 141 100
2012–13 92 100
2013–14 126 100
2014-15 112 100
2015-16 135 100
2016-17 129 100
2017-18 123 100
2018-19 128 100
Almond program results summary 2010–11 to 2017-18
Year Samples Compliance (%)
2010–11 34 100.0
2011–12 33 100.0
2012–13 28 100.0
2013–14 51 100.0
2014-15 39 94.9
2015-16 35 91.4
2016-17 96 87.5
2017-18 98 86.2
2018-19 70 98.7
Cherry program results summary 2017–18 to 2018–19
Year Samples Compliance (%)
2017-18 45 100.0
2018-19 54 90.7

Detailed horticulture results by commodity.

Last reviewed: 28 November 2019
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