Driftwatch website now available in Michigan to register pesticide sensitive sites

Commercial fields and ecologically sensitive areas now have a better chance of avoiding pesticide spray drift problems

If you are a grower who has had problems from herbicide or other pesticide drift onto sensitive crops, or a commercial applicator wishing to avoid pesticide drift issues, this information should be of interest to you.

Driftwatch, also used to protect sensitive habitats, was originally devised at Purdue University for use in the state of Indiana, but is now available for other Midwestern state, including Michigan. The Driftwatch website has been created to help avoid pesticide spray drift problems in unintended areas by connecting growers of pesticide-sensitive or organic crops with commercial applicators and companies that apply crop protection materials to nearby fields. Locations of bee colonies can also be registered by apiaries.

This site is not intended for homeowners. It is only for registration of commercial fields and ecologically sensitive areas that are at least one-half of an acre in size. The site uses Google maps to find a specific area. Registered sites appear as a pop-up balloon on the map with a letter designation signifying the type of crop at the site. Clicking on the balloon brings up the crop registered and the registrant’s name. Complete directions for registering as either a producer or an applicator can be found on the Driftwatch site.

This web-based program allows growers of pesticide adverse crops or organic crops to register the locations of their fields in a database maintained by a central agency. Applicators can also register and check the website’s database for registered field areas before spraying operations take place. Registered applicators also receive email messages alerting them to new drift-sensitive fields that have been added to the database.

The Driftwatch program can only be successful if growers take the time to register and list the location of their fields and applicators register and use the website to locate no-drift locations before beginning spray operations. Growers who have registered their fields as sensitive sites can order and post highly visible “no-drift zone” signs at the Driftwatch website.

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