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Tool helps prevent pesticide drift damage

Jeff Caldwell 03/19/2013 @ 7:56am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Row crops and specialty crops like fruit, vegetables, bees and organic field crops aren't always the best neighbors. Officials at the University of Nebraska have developed a web-based tool to make the 2 sectors better neighbors.

The Nebraska DriftWatch(TM) progam uses Google maps to plot out the commercial farm locations that might be sensitive to pesticide or herbicide applications by nearby corn, soybean, wheat or sorghum farmers.

"This online mapping service shows the locations of commercial pesticide-sensitive crops, including grapes, fruits, vegetables, orchards, nurseries, and organic crops. Applicators benefiting from this service would be those with who apply pesticide to their own farm, fields, and fence lines, and commercial applicators in the ag plant, right of way, and ornamental/turf categories," according to University of Nebraska Environmental Programs specialist Craig Romary.

The utility's not all-encompassing, however; it requires farmers whose crops may be sensitive to pesticides to register. In doing so, Romary says he hopes the web tool becomes more than just a simple utility.

"Applicators are also encouraged to open a dialogue with these growers—many have consented to have their contact information provided in the crop information that pops up when a specific location is clicked," he says. "In addition, DriftWatch offers an email applicator notification system when new crop locations are entered into a 'business area' selected by the applicator."

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