Grapegrower awarded $7m in damages over spraying

An Australian grape grower has been awarded more than AUS$7 million in damages after a court found its vineyard had been adversely affected by a neighbour spraying chemical herbicides.

A field being sprayed with chemicals

As reported by the Sunraysia Daily, Riverman Orchards, in north west Victoria, sought damages in 2015 against its neighbour, Rodney James Hayden,  after noticing that yields of its 60-hectare vineyard had reduced, along with fruit set and quality, from 2013 onward.

Owner Tony Caccaviello initially thought the damage had been caused by frost, before tests confirmed it was the result of herbicides which had not been used in the vineyard, but had drifted from Hayden’s neighbouring plot.

Hayden, which cultivates vetch, confirmed his property had been sprayed with a mixture containing 2,4-D, glyphosate and metsulfuron-methyl, which included a wetting agent based on ammonium sulphate.

Lodging a lawsuit in 2015, Caccaviello sought costs to re-establish the vineyard and compensation for lost sales in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Caccaviello said the damage caused by the chemical drift meant that 8,000 vines needed to be removed and replanted to re-establish the vineyard to the standard that it was before October 2013.

This week The Supreme Court of Victoria ordered ordered Hayden to pay Riverman Orchards AUS$6,543,626 in damages and a further $704,587.66 in interest.

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