Ag leaders use Internet to help prevent accidental pesticide damage to plantsThe Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced it will make the online Driftwatch sensitive crops registry available to Minnesota specialty crop producers for the 2012 growing season.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced it will make the online Driftwatch sensitive crops registry available to Minnesota specialty crop producers for the 2012 growing season. By providing a registry of the locations and descriptions of sensitive specialty crops, the new service helps growers avoid accidental pesticide damage from occurring on sensitive crops.
The idea behind Driftwatch is to help pesticide applicators and specialty crop producers communicate more effectively about the location of crops that are particularly sensitive to pesticides, such as vegetables, grapes and certified organic crops. Farmers growing these sensitive crops can post information in the registry about the location and type of crop. The information is then available to neighboring farmers as well as professional pesticide applicators hired by neighboring farmers, who can take special steps to reduce the chance of accidentally injuring the sensitive crops. The registry can be accessed online at http://www.driftwatch.org.
“The program was developed as a tool to help farmers avoid problems during pesticide applications,” said MDA Pesticide Advisor Kevin Cavanagh. “Part of our job at MDA is to enforce state pesticide laws and to investigate pesticide drift complaints, but it is always better to avoid problems in the first place. By offering another method of communication for producers and applicators, we can prevent problems before they happen.”
Minnesota is one of seven states offering the Driftwatch registry. Participation is voluntary and open to all Minnesota specialty crop producers and pesticide applicators. MDA is partnering with the Office of the Indiana State Chemist at Purdue University, where all registry data is maintained. There is no cost for participation.
Driftwatch uses Google Maps™ to show field locations of sensitive crops. The maps can be quickly accessed online by pesticide applicators to learn of sensitive crop locations in advance and take precautionary measures to control off-target pesticide movement. Additionally, pesticide applicators have the option to sign up for automatic notification of new registries in their service area.
Driftwatch is not intended for residential locations or sites with less than half an acre. Registry data integrity is managed by an independent data steward, who performs a safeguard role in receiving and approving field sites prior to their posting on the Driftwatch map. For 2012, there will be Minnesota data stewards for certified organic farms, Christmas trees, fruits, grapes and vegetables. It is anticipated that more categories will be added in the future. For more information or assistance, farmers can contact the MDA at 651-201-6349.