Drift Control Developments

Drift Control

This spring brings news on two basic yet evolving tools against drift: drift control agents and nozzles. Also on the radar are proposed regulations for limiting possible off-target spray problems. CropLife® got a glimpse into how readers are handling these hot topics.

Scott Firlus, agronomy grain manager at Wisconsin River Coop, Adams, WI, says the company has used InterLock, a vegetable-oil based adjuvant, in all its crop protection applications for the last three years. Some growers complain about the $1 to $1.50 per-acre charge for the agent, but the coop gives them the option of a waiver. “We offer them a liability sign-off that they are responsible for any off-site movement. Only one grower has taken us up on it,” he says.

In the last few years, Gordon Cock­rum, crop protection division manager with The McGregor Co., Colfax, WA, says his team has been looking at some of the older polymer drift/deposition aid technology. The products cost growers about 20¢-30¢ more per acre, but he says they see the value when they realize the off-target problems that might arise.

Steve Ferrara with Carolina Eastern-Vail, Niverville, NY, says the company uses air induction nozzles on most of its sprayers and believes they offer more consistent spray droplet sizes. For maximum drift reduction, applicators use a dual approach. “Anytime we have a phenoxy or Roundup/Touchdown in the tank, we try and make sure we use both the air induction nozzles and drift control agents,” he says.

Cockrum says his company has incorporated air induction nozzles into much of its application work. And the firm’s research agronomists are always on the lookout for new technologies to try. He says one such example is nozzles coming out of England that use “bubble jet technology.”

Dealers understand that a key way to reduce drift is to drive droplet size up, says Cockrum. “But the problem is you also reduce coverage. So if you’re working with coverage of critical materials, that’s a challenge,” he points out.

One challenge somewhat unique to Washington is the state’s ancient pesticide regulations, some dating back 35 to 40 years, when spraying of phenoxies in tree fruits and grapes became a problem. In fact, Cockrum calls the rules the most restrictive he’s seen in the three-state Washington, Oregon, Idaho region McGregor serves. They were written for older technologies and specify wind speed and operating pressures which don’t allow the new technology to work very well, he explains.

“Officials are really reluctant to open the regulations up and start debating them again,” Cockrum says. But he believes state regulators realize they can’t encourage people to get into the application advances — such as air induction nozzles — without reviewing the rules.

Ferrara says he hears about more drift control agents every year and his staff tries to evaluate them, but the task is difficult. He would like an independent source that would look at the products and tell dealers which ones work and which don’t.

Says Mike Lee, Earl’s Flying Service, Steele, MO: “I am for any nozzle testing that would help determine the drift potential of any product. The test would need to be conducted with actual product, as the pesticides sometimes changes droplet size.”

Evaluating products is part of the goal of the EPA‘s Drift Reduction Tech­nology (DRT) Program. In development for the past five years, the Office of Pesticide Programs’ project is now at the point of evaluating standard testing protocols for products. EPA plans to post the test protocol this summer. DRT ratings will ultimately appear on product labels.

Regulations Progress

States are wrestling with assorted pesticide regulations, trying to sort out which issues are addressed at the federal level by EPA — perhaps in product labeling — and which need to be handled by states.

Cockrum says EPA is proposing at extensive buffer zones to prevent drift — up to 1,000 feet from water bearing streams. The proposal stems from a lawsuit filed against EPA and Marine Fisheries, and the goal is to protect salmon and steelhead runs. “But when you start laying out buffers of 1,000 feet, in many fields you’ve consumed two-thirds of it and there’s nothing left to spray,” he notes. While this fish run issue (species populations are actually rising, not falling) is most prominent in the Pacific Northwest, similar regulations are popping up across the U.S.

In fact, buffer zones around waterways are also being discussed on the East Coast, Ferrara says, “but if you put up a buffer zone on some of that river bottom ground, you’re taking away some of the farmers’ most productive acres.”

National and state ag retail associations continue to monitor the status of EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) proposed permit requirements. On March 28 of this year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the agency’s request for an extension to allow more time for operators to obtain General Permits for pesticide discharge into U.S. waters. According to EPA’s NPDES Website, the ruling moves the permit deadline from April 9 to October 31. The goals: Give the agency sufficient time to evaluate how the Endangered Species Act might impact permitting and develop an electronic database to streamline requests for coverage.

The delay also allows time for authorized states to finish developing their permits plus gives permitting authorities time to reach out to stakeholders. General permits would provide coverage for discharges where EPA is the NPDES permitting authority. For discharges in NPDES-authorized states, state system authorities would handle issuing the permits.

In a clarification for retailers, applicants not covered under the General Permit scheme — which would include non-target spray drift sources — may need to gain permission under an individual or alternative general permit.

Firlus hopes permit requirements are held off until a clear official plan and process is in place. “It will be tough to get good information on the process in the middle of spring when things are crazy,” he points out. And some dealers wonder if state budget shortfalls will slow enforcement of any new regulations.

On March 31, the U.S. House of Re­presentatives passed H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011. Among other things, the ag-friendly legislation amends FIFRA and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act) to clarify Congress’ intent “on the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters.” In short, this bill would eliminate EPA’s authority to issue Clean Water Act permits for pesticides released in waterways. At presstime H.R. 872 was being considered in the Senate.

Making Friends

The dealers we talked with are very committed to building positive relationships with regulators and neighbors, as part of their drift control programs.

Wisconsin River Coop sees lots of aerial application in its territory because of large acreages of vegetable crops, but the company has not had problems with drift damage. Firlus says issues do arise with home gardeners who plant grapes on property lines with a farm field, but don’t communicate with growers what they’re doing.

Carolina Eastern-Vail’s Ferrara says his customers are “farming in the middle of suburbia. We’ve got neighbors literally right next to us, whether it’s tightly packed housing projects — which the East Coast is famous for — or apple orchards,” he describes. So drift concerns are real.

Peter Vail Sr. says his company works very closely with enforcement officers at the New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation. For example, because the state no longer handles pesticide training for licensing, Carolina Eastern-Vail secures approval by officials to conduct its own 30-hour training session.

When it comes to working with neighbors with drift complaints, Vail says the company addresses them right away, especially reviewing product labels with the public.

Because of growers’ small fields and close quarters with the homeowners in New York, Vail says his firm tries to avoid aerial application altogether. However, with the exponential growth of fungicide use on corn — business grew 1,000% last year and is projected to do the same again in 2011 — he’s not sure his staff can get all the work done in time without going to aerial application.

Ferrara calls his experienced team of applicators “probably the very best thing we have” in controlling drift. They know the fields and know where sensitive areas are. “They know what’s around them and pay attention as they’re going, what they’re going to see next,” he says.

Firlus believes in the future dealers will need to call on a combination of nozzles, technology, drift reduction tools, and computer tracking to “cover your tail. It seems with drift you are guilty until proven innocent. I hope sound science, not emotion or courts making laws to regulate our business into a small corner.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Equipment Stories

PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
EquipmentAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Central Valley Ag Randolph, NE
Precision AgLand O’Lakes Invests in EFC Systems
June 12, 2017
Land O’Lakes, Inc. has made a minority equity investment in EFC Systems, Inc., an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and precision Read More
Wilbur-Ellis’ new fertilizer blending facility, located in Mott, ND, was designed by A.J. Sackett & Sons.
BlendersSackett-Waconia Restructures its Sales Force
June 12, 2017
Sackett-Waconia has added three new positions to their sales team: John Lamneck as Regional Account Manager – Eastern U.S.; Craig Read More
Trending Articles
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Redbanded-stinkbug-on-soybean-Photo-credit-Thomas-County-Ag
Crop InputsExperts: Mild Winter, Early Planting Will Increase Soybean Insect Threat
June 12, 2017
Higher than average temperatures this past winter affected much of the nation, especially the South and Midwest. The National Centers Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Case sprayer nozzle closeup
EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsArkansas Plant Board Votes to Ban Dicamba — Now W…
June 23, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has voted to pass a proposed emergency rule to ban the use of in-crop dicamba, Read More
Engenia soybeans
Crop InputsBASF: ‘Closely Monitoring’ Dicamba Situatio…
June 22, 2017
BASF, whose Engenia herbicide is the target of more than 200 drift complaints in Arkansas, emailed the following statement to Read More
ManagementConsolidation Update
June 22, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss progress on manufacturer consolidation, and another big move for Midwest cooperative Central Valley Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
Crop InputsThreat of Dicamba Ban Looms in Arkansas
June 22, 2017
The Arkansas State Plant Board has rejected a proposed ban on the use of dicamba herbicide, but a procedural error Read More
Potash Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium-PotashCorp to become Nutrien upon Merger Complet…
June 21, 2017
Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. have announced today that once the anticipated merger transaction closes, the new Read More
Crop InputsMidwestern BioAg Hosts TerraNu Fertilizer Plant Opening…
June 20, 2017
Last Friday, Midwestern BioAg was joined by over 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsAligned Ag Distributors Names New President
June 19, 2017
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC announced this morning the appointment of Mary Tolke to the position of President/CEO, effective July 1. Read More
ManagementPlotting Corn, AGCO/Asmark’s Applicator Training Center…
June 15, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about their recent visits to Columbus, OH, and Bloomington, IL, along with an Read More
Seed/BiotechDow AgroSciences Announces Launch of Enlist Corn for 20…
June 14, 2017
Enlist corn will be commercially available in the U.S. for the 2018 growing season. Dow AgroSciences announced the launch today Read More
ASMARK AGCO Applicator Training Center
EmployeesAsmark, AGCO Open Training Center for Beginning Applica…
June 13, 2017
AGCO Corp. and the Asmark Institute have opened a new Applicator Training Center, created in a collaboration between the two Read More
Power to Do More Contest Winners
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Announces Three Winners in Power to Do…
June 13, 2017
Thousands of votes have been cast and three farmers have been awarded the power to do more with a $10,000 Read More
Frogeye leaf spot
FungicidesStrobilurin-resistant Frogeye Leaf Spot Threat Looms wi…
June 13, 2017
Heavy spring rainfall throughout the South and Midwest delayed planting and created the perfect environment for diseases like frogeye leaf Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
LegislationICGA Praises President Trump’s Remarks on Waterwa…
June 12, 2017
Illinois Corn Growers Association President Justin Durdan, a farmer from Utica, issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s comments Read More
Wheat Growers
UncategorizedWheat Growers Names Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice Presiden…
June 12, 2017
Wheat Growers has hired Tracy Linbo as Senior Vice President of Agronomy. Linbo joins Wheat Growers after having served 10 Read More
EquipmentAgTech Summit Aiming High for Modern Farming Solutions
June 12, 2017
THRIVE AgTech, in partnership with SVG Partners and Forbes, is hosting the third annual Forbes AgTech Summit June 28-29 in Read More
Central Valley Ag Randolph, NE
Precision AgLand O’Lakes Invests in EFC Systems
June 12, 2017
Land O’Lakes, Inc. has made a minority equity investment in EFC Systems, Inc., an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and precision Read More
BRANDT
Crop InputsBRANDT Products Approved for Use with New Cropping Syst…
June 12, 2017
BRANDT, a leading manufacturer of specialty products for the agriculture and turf markets, has announced that 11 BRANDT formulations have Read More