Today’s Topic: New online tool to help prevent crop damage, bee deaths from pesticide drift

By on April 5, 2016

Todays-Topic

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

North Carolina is joining 13 other states in offering an online service that allows producers of pesticide-sensitive specialty crops to map their crop locations.

Commissioner Troxler says DriftWatch seeks to enhance communication and awareness between pesticide users and producers of high-value specialty crops. A companion program, BeeCheck, allows hive owners to map the locations of their beehives. The goal of using both of these tools is to prevent crop damage and bee deaths due to accidental pesticide drift.

The program is voluntary, non-regulatory and free to use. Other states, particularly in the Midwest, have had success in getting pesticide users, farmers and beekeepers to use the site.

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 can choose which details of hive information are displayed on the map by denoting their hives with half-acre circles.

This program should help specialty crop producers, beekeepers and pesticide users be good neighbors and work together to protect pollinators and control drift on sensitive crops, Commissioner Troxler says.

The program was purchased with a grant from the Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund and is one of the results of the department’s efforts to protect and increase pollinators in the state.

Over the next several months, department staff will meet with grower groups and work through Cooperative Extension and Farm Bureau to explain to  farmers how DriftWatch works and how to use the online tools. To learn about the programs and for detailed instructions on how to sign up and use the mapping tool, click here.

To listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss DriftWatch, click on the audio player below.

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