When applying pesticides this season, remember to visit the DriftWatch map--ne.driftwatch.org--to check for pesticide-sensitive crops in your area.
DriftWatch is a web map directory of commercial pesticide sensitive crops to aid in reducing the incidents of drift, according to Craig Romary, environmental programs specialist at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. To be eligible for DriftWatch, he adds, you must be a commercial grower, which means selling the crop in some way and not just using it for personal use.
Sensitive crop categories include certified organic, honey, aquaculture, fruits, grapes, greenhouse/high tunnel, nursery crops, fruit/nut orchards, and vegetables.
The number of growers and field sites listed has increased considerably in the last year. About 30,000 people have a private or commercial applicator license, and the majority of these apply pesticides outdoors that potentially could impact neighboring sensitive crops. However, the number of applicators signed up in DriftWatch is miniscule in comparison, Romary says.
NDA encourages all outdoor use applicators to sign up for DriftWatch notifications. Once registered, you will receive an e-mail whenever a sensitive crop is added to your ‘business area,’ which could be a statewide, county, multiple county, or square mile area.
“This could benefit any applicator, not just licensed applicators,” he adds. “Simply go to the web link above and select ‘applicators’ on the header bar, and enter your contact information and draw your business area.”
There is a user guide and a video which briefly demonstrates how to draw your field or property directly online. “Briefly, it’s a two-step process requiring you to create a log in and profile with your contact info. Then you log in to your profile and draw your field or property boundaries,” Romary says.
The following is a breakdown of the number of crop sites currently in DriftWatch:
- Beehives, 60 sites, 44 growers
- Certified organic, 254 sites, 63 growers
- Fish farms, 2 sites, one grower
- Fruits, 31 sites, 26 growers
- Grapes, 157 sites, 143 growers
- Greenhouse/high tunnel, 15 sites, 15 growers
- Orchards, 31 sites, 25 growers
- Vegetables, 70 sites, 56 growers
- Other, 19 sites, 13 growers
Romary says that growers who are currently listed in DriftWatch should expect e-mail correspondence this winter to update their information, if needed, and renew their locations for 2014. “Be sure to update your profile now, if your e-mail address has changed since you initially registered. And be sure to add email@example.com to your ‘allowed’ or ‘safe’ sender list in your e-mail system, which will ensure that you get these notifications.”
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and the Pesticide Safety Education Program have recently developed a related NebGuide found at bit.ly/psep2179, and two new YouTube videos on protecting sensitive crops found at bit.ly/1dQk7F3.