Protect organic farms and other pesticide-sensitive sites by updating Driftwatch

Every year, organic farmers in Michigan need to log on to the Driftwatch website to identify the locations of their organic farms so they will be listed on the Certified Organic Farm registry.

Organic farms located nearby conventional farms stand a risk of pesticide drift. Commercial pesticide applicators that otherwise might not be aware of adjacent organic farms can refer to the Certified Organic Registry coordinated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). By using the registry, they can locate pesticide-sensitive fields in their area and take extra precaution to prevent pesticide drift.

In the past, organic farmers registered their farm using a paper form. Starting in 2012, organic farmers started using a website called Driftwatch. This appears to be an excellent communication tool. After organic farmers list their farms, commercial pesticide applicators are able to log on to the website and easily identify existing organic farms in their service area. This same online system will be used for other pesticide-sensitive areas such as apiaries, vineyards and specialty crop fields.

Organic farms can be updated now and new listings added for 2013. It can also be updated later as new fields are added. Information is required to be updated every year. To update, go online to Driftwatch, log in and make the updated changes, which will minimally include changing the year to 2013. Another option if you had a listing last year is to respond to an email from Driftwatch or MDARD staff (coming to you by mid- January) and click on a link to update 2013.

Organic farmers without access to the internet or who need assistance can contact Dan Rossman at the Gratiot County Michigan State University Extension office at 989-875-5233, or Antonio Castro-Escobar at MDARD at 517-373-6350.

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