First through the door, Ken Kuderer stopped and pointed down to a bright yellow piece of substantial angle iron jutting from the floor.
“Watch your step there,” he says to his guests. “That’s part of our containment. There are a few more around this facility.”
It’s a glimpse of the attention to detail prevalent at Salem Crop Production Services (CPS) in Salem, OR, winner of the Land Management Environmental Respect Award for 2013. Ken Kuderer is the manager of Salem CPS facility, part of the Timberland Division of CPS and responsible for vegetation management projects in many states on the western side of the Rocky Mountains. This weed control work includes applications on roadsides, under power lines, at pipeline yards, range and pastureland, bare ground and off-road land management work.
“We work with rigs of all kinds, including helicopters, fixed-wing, four-wheelers, roadside rigs and backpacks,” says Kuderer.
Salem CPS custom mixes chemicals for specific jobs and provides them in a closed-lock returnable and refillable container, often in individual, per-load units for quality control. These poly-tanks are designed to dispense product completely and are tracked with a web-based barcode Aqutrac tracking system. A dedicated 800-number is provided for users to call the Salem facility and arrange for pick-up of empty containers.
Samples of custom mixes — through the “Aqumix” system — are provided to the user and are also maintained for two years in a locked cabinet at the CPS Salem facility for retrieval if any questions should ever arise about the product used or product integrity — whether from a customer, or, worst case, inside a courtroom. These samples, combined with GPS-based mapping and tracking made during application, provide a better defense if questioned.
“If we end up in court because someone claims we sprayed off target or mis-applied product, we can pull out the spray records and show exactly what was sprayed and the location of the spray project,” says Kuderer. “With our Aqutrac system we can pull our sample of the mixture used on a project and have it tested to show exactly what was in the mix.” He adds that there’s no room for sloppy work or anything that even looks suspect.
“Application operators are coming into contact with dozens of landowners in the course of a day of application,” he explains, “and everyone has a phone and a camera along with them.”