Program aims to improve communication between farmers and pesticide users.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has joined 13 other states in partnering with FieldWatch, an online mapping service to help prevent crop damage and bee deaths due to accidental/unintended pesticide drift. Producers of horticultural and organic crops can map their field location using the DriftWatch program. As a companion program, BeeCheck will allow hive owners to map the locations of beehives. Pesticide applicators can access both databases before treating a field to identify sensitive sites that are close to the spray areas.
“This program is voluntary, non-regulatory and free to use,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler.
“Other states, especially in the Midwest, have had great success in getting pesticide users, farmers and beekeepers to use the site to reduce the effects of accidental drift. We hope to see similar results here.”
Growers, beekeepers and pesticide users can access DriftWatch and BeeCheck at www.ncagr.gov/pollinators. The website offers detailed instructions on how to sign up and use the mapping tools. Producers of high-value specialty crops, such as tomatoes, tobacco, fruit trees, grapes and vegetables can map their sites and provide contact information about their operation on DriftWatch. Using BeeCheck, beekeepers map their hives using pins and half-acre circles and can choose which details of hive information are displayed on the map.
“This program should help specialty crop producers, beekeepers and pesticide users be good neighbors and work together to protect our pollinators and avoid drift on sensitive crops,” Troxler said. “We hope to spend the next several months meeting with grower groups and working with Cooperative Extension and the N.C. Farm Bureau to explain how DriftWatch works and how to use the online tools. I think this can be a valuable tool for our agricultural community.”
This program was purchased with a grant from the Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund. It is part of the department’s ongoing efforts to protect and increase valuable pollinators in the state.