DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is finalizing paperwork to take part in a new way to keep pesticide applications away from areas where they could do serious harm if not kept on target, a scenario called pesticide drift.
The IDALS paperwork concerns DriftWatch, a voluntary map-based registry for sensitive crops and apiaries – beehives. Driftwatch is a collaboration between Fieldwatch, a non-profit, and Purdue University.
Iowa Deputy Ag Secretary Mike Naig notes that every state bordering Iowa, with the exception of South Dakota, utilizes Driftwatch to keep track of where bees are kept and where sensitive crops are grown. He hopes updating existing resources will be an improvement.
“We don’t want any barriers to both the applicator community or the sensitive crops or the beekeeper,” explains Naig. “We want to make sure they can get those sites on there, that it’s up-to-date and that information can be accessed easily. And DriftWatch can allow us to do that.”
The current registry relies on GPS coordinates, and while it is Internet-accessible, it’s entirely text-based. Driftwatch makes use of a map system, and Naig says it’s much more user-friendly. He expects Iowa to be part of Driftwatch by the end of the year.
According to EPA, applicators lose 70 million pounds of pesticide every year by allowing it to drift, with between one and ten percent of pesticide for agricultural uses never actually reaching the crop, due to drift.
To hear more about how IDALS expects DriftWatch to help prevent pesticide drift into sensitive areas, click the audio player above this story.