Preventing Spray Drift

This is one to share with the neighbours.  Every spring, we see way too much spray drift onto vegetable crops (as well as residential areas and sensitive habitats).  Not only can this reduce yields by injuring or even killing the crop, but there are many other serious consequences to the victim of spray drift such as:

  • Ÿ reduced crop marketability due to pesticide residue
  • Ÿ reduced crop marketability due to effects of herbicide injury (appearance, size)
  • Ÿ inability to meet contract commitments for volume of crop
  • Ÿ delay in crop maturity resulting in inability to meet contract commitments to buyer
  • Ÿ delay in crop maturity resulting in loss of premium (early) markets
  • Ÿ loss of customers or markets due to gaps in supply of the crop
  • Ÿ long term injury (eg. several years) to perennial crop or windbreaks
  • Ÿ rifts between neighbours, family, friends
  • Ÿ large legal bills

Some of these consequences are particular to certain horticultural crops and others are common no matter what you grow.

Neighbours or custom operators working in adjacent fields may not realize how sensitive the horticultural crops are or the potentially devastating consequences of drift injury that go well beyond the yield loss. Communication between applicators and adjacent home owners or growers is critical, and it should be the applicator that initiates the conversation.

The potential for spray drift can be greatly reduced, but only when spray applicators educate themselves about how spray moves.  Several resources including videos, online tools, written material, and public shaming are listed below.

CropLife Canada and OMAFRA have produced two short videos (5 minutes each) that are well worth watching and sharing. A great resource for pesticide applicators, Sprayers101.com, has a library of information on preventing spray drift.

Weathercentral.ca features a site-specific 3-day hourly forecast of spraying conditions.  It’s extremely easy to use and I would suggest printing off the forecast for your records for each day you are spraying.  Maybe you can email it to the neighbours and area custom operators every morning, too?

OMAFRA also has a factsheet called Pesticide Drift from Ground Applications.  Not only does it give details and data on how to reduce drift, but it also provides guidance on what to do if you suspect drift damage.  It includes a section on Legislation and Liability.

SprayCast Online Interface
SprayCast Online Interface
SprayCast Forecast
SprayCast Forecast

And if you become a victim of herbicide drift, what do you do?  See the article “You Suspect Herbicide Drift – Now What?” for information on who to notify and what steps to take. https://onvegetables.com/2011/06/27/herbicide-drift-now-what-2/

If you think none of this will get through to the person running the sprayer beside your vegetable field, visit Sprayers101.com and print off “Ontario’s Worst Sprayer Operator”.  Maybe it will get their attention.

See more resources on preventing spray drift at Sprayers101.com.

Updated March 30, 2015 including updated links and removal of links to resources that no longer exist.

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