by Dr. Jason S.T. Deveau, Application Technology Specialist, OMAFRA, Simcoe
Many years ago (in a galaxy far, far away) the Pest Management Regulatory Agency had an idea to develop a webpage that would provide the reader with clear and concise information on pesticide drift. Specialists were called in, third-party consultants were engaged and the information was hammered into a very nice explanation of what drift is and how applicators can minimize it.
Then someone had the idea to mix buffer zones into the explanation and everything ground to a halt.
In the UK, spray applicators register their spray equipment with government authorities. They sign off on their travel speed, the exact make of their nozzles, their operating pressure, and any drift-reducing modifications they make to their sprayers. When all this information is plugged into some rather complicated formulas, along with weather conditions and the proximity of environmentally sensitive areas, they may be allowed to reduce the labelled buffer zones.
This system is called LERAP (Local Environmental Risk Assessment for Pesticide) and it’s been in place for a long time. Why not in North America? Because we don’t have the same equipment or all the data that makes buffer zone reduction reliable… until now.
I’m very happy to announce the drift mitigation web pages are finally on the PMRA/HC website. They can be accessed by selecting Drift Mitigation. This will take you to the main page. From there you can go to the Buffer Zone Calculator and Glossary of Terms.
This new method for adjusting buffer zones isn’t as quite as sophisticated as the LERAP system, but it’s a great first step. The user will be asked to answer a series of questions about their sprayer, the environmental conditions at the time of spraying, and the proximity of any environmentally sensitive areas. If the applicator is using equipment that is known to reduce drift, and sprays in conditions that reduce the potential for drift, they are rewarded with discount factors that reduce the labelled buffer zones.
I suggest you visit the site and try the calculator. If you’re still interested in learning more about pesticide drift, OMAFRA has just finished a new factsheet: “Pesticide Drift from Ground Applications” Order No. 11-001. It will be printed in full colour and ready in time for the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention. Swing by the OMAFRA booth and pick up a copy.