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Keep pesticide drift at bay

by Clint Thompson, University of Georgia

As a result of two years of aggressive training to improve on-target agricultural pesticide applications, the number of pesticide drift complaints received by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has gone down 65 percent, according to UGA Extension weed specialist Stanley Culpepper.

“No grower wants (their pesticides to) drift. I’ve said it a million times. The best way for Extension to help our growers eliminate drift is by providing them the latest research data on tactics and approaches they can implement to help them achieve their goal,” Culpepper said. Continue reading

Growers must be careful when using new herbicide technologies

In Delta Farm Press

Rules surrounding new weed-fighting technologies don’t make for a short, or uncomplicated, list, says Ples Spradley.

First off, “Applications of products (Xtendimax, Enlist Duo and Engenia) shall not be made to Enlist or Xtend seed technologies without’” completing new training, the Arkansas Extension pesticide safety education specialist told the crowd at the recent Pigposium 3 in Forrest City, Ark. “If you’re an applicator – private, commercial, non-commercial or commercial applicator technician – and will use those herbicides on those technologies, you must go through our training. The new regulations state that you cannot apply Xtendimax in Arkansas between April 15 and September 15, with a limited exception for pasture applications.” Continue reading

Aerial spraying for mosquitoes in South Carolina causes honey bee deaths

In The Charlotte Observer

by Ben Guarino, Washington Post

On Sunday morning, the South Carolina honey bees began to die in massive numbers.

Death came suddenly to Dorchester County, S.C. Stressed insects tried to flee their nests, only to surrender in little clumps at hive entrances. The dead worker bees littering the farms suggested that colony collapse disorder was not the culprit – in that odd phenomenon, workers vanish as though raptured, leaving a living queen and young bees behind. Continue reading

Applying herbicides without regard to the label has consequences

In Delta Farm Press

by David Bennett, Farm Press staff

Sadly, off-target herbicide drift leading to damaged crops isn’t new to Mid-South farmers. However, the concerns have become more pronounced with dicamba being illegally applied over-the-top of Xtend soybeans.

Unfortunately, damaged crops are only part of a set of problems. Continue reading

Complaints of off-target movement of chemical applications decrease in 2015

by Clint Thompson, University of Georgia

Complaints over off-target movement of chemical applications went down 48 percent from 2014 to 2015, but Georgia farmers must better understand the factors that influence drift, according to University of Georgia weed scientist Stanley Culpepper.

Culpepper, a world-renowned researcher based on the UGA campus in Tifton, Georgia, attributes the reduction in pesticide drift complaints to slower wind speeds combined with an educational initiative by UGA Cooperative Extension and the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Continue reading

EPA launches new program to reduce pesticide drift

The EPA is announcing a new voluntary Drift Reduction Technology (DRT) program to encourage the use of verified, safer pesticide spray products to reduce exposure and pesticide movement while saving farmers money in pesticide loss.

Continue reading

Managing herbicide drift is the law

From Southeast Farm Press

Keeping herbicides from drifting off target is the law and “it’s the neighborly thing to do,” says a University of Georgia weed specialist.

“If you look at our agriculture community, it’s family living next to family. If herbicide drifts onto another grower’s field, the impact from that drift could be significant. It could reduce the bottom line, damage the crop,” said UGA Extension weed agronomist Stanley Culpepper. “We need to manage drift, obviously, to be good neighbors, but essentially it’s the law.”

Culpepper implores farmers and pesticide applicators to exercise ‘common sense,’ when applying their chemical treatments. This task involves managing a lot of factors.

“Wind speed, spray pressure, sprayer speed, height of the boom above the target, herbicide product and formulation, and adjuvants must all be considered when developing a plan to avoid off-target herbicide movement,” Culpepper said.

Off-target movement comes from spray droplet drift or vapor drift. Droplet drift is a result of spray emerging from a spray nozzle and breaking into droplets of varying sizes; large droplets fall more quickly to the ground while smaller droplets remain in the air for a longer period of time and are more likely to move off-site.

Culpepper says growers have numerous options to help reduce spray droplet drift.

Using nozzles and spray pressures that produce the maximum size spray droplets for the selected herbicide is one part of the drift control program. But Culpepper stresses farmers should do their homework as some herbicides are not effective when spray droplets become too large.

Vapor drift usually occurs with high volatile compounds when the herbicide contacts the target (plant/soil) as planned, but later lifts back into the air as a result of very specific environmental conditions.

Growers can limit drift by reducing the boom height to the lowest point that allows adequate spray coverage without boom destruction. Two-foot above the weedy target would be ideal when feasible, Culpepper said. Drift control agents, following herbicide label recommendations, can also be an effective part of a drift control plan.

The greatest method to reduce drift is common sense. Do not apply a product in winds that move the herbicide from the target area, he said. Most herbicides should be applied when wind speeds are between 3 and 10 mph, but even at these speeds care must be taken to avoid spray movement into sensitive areas.

Growers can also reduce the potential for herbicide volatility by avoiding product formulations that are highly volatility. For example, 2,4-D esters are much more likely to produce damaging vapors compared to 2,4-D amines, Culpepper said.

As farmers adopt new technologies, off-target movement should be rapidly reduced, he said. “As these tools and methods become available, grower adoption will occur as managing off-target movement is critical for our agricultural communities as farmers strive to be good neighbors and true environmentalists,” Culpepper said.

Real time wind speed data is available through UGA’s Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network.