DriftWatch Updated, Improved

DriftWatch Updated, Improved

Jan. 20, 2015

DriftWatch map
Figure 1. Sample map showing pesticide-sensitive sites in Nebraska.

Commercial applicators and farmers alike can benefit from recent changes to DriftWatch, an online tool to identify fields where commercial specialty or pesticide-sensitive crops are being grown. In Nebraska 70 counties have registered such areas, said Craig Romary, environmental programs specialist with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. New crop sites and beehives are being registered regularly.

"We want to encourage growers to register and applicators to check it," Romary said this week.

Personnel from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and FieldWatch, which manages DriftWatch, have been working to make the information in DriftWatch™ as accurate and current as possible for applicators, Romary said. Many old, outdated, and inaccurate locations have been deleted and new sites are being added.

Table 1. DriftWatch registrants and sensitivity types for Nebraska, January, 2015.
Crop Type No. of Sites
or Fields
No. of
Growers
Acres
Beehives 74 48 *
Fish Farm 3 2 2
Fruits 42 36 190
Orchard 35 27 337
Grapes 35 27 337
Greenhouse-High Tunnel 16 16 39
Non-specialty Certified Organic 193 41 29,046
Nursery Crops 21 20 269
Other** 87 37 10,559
Vegetables 79 63 1,025
Totals 692 *** 42,457

The predecessor of DriftWatch offered dots on a map to indicate sensitive areas. These could be somewhat inexact, Romary said. The new tool lets registrants use GPS coordinates and outline areas on a map to be more accurate and provide more detail. Also, user guides on FieldWatch for producers, applicators, and beekeepers offer valuable information and tips for registering and updating data.

The locator map (Figure 1) and many site services are free, although there is a subscription for extended services such as mobile live data feeds.

Features recently added to DriftWatch include:

  • Beekeepers now can choose whether their beehives appear on the public DriftWatch map or are visible only to registered applicators. This will make registering as an applicator—which is free of charge—especially important.
  • A registered applicator, who is also a member of FieldWatch, can now select specific counties from multiple states for notices when new information is added to the map. Membership also allows access to real-time map data. See www.fieldwatch.com for more information. Registered applicators should watch for email notices directly from FieldWatch.

While there are 692 site registrations for Nebraska (Table 1), Romary would like to see even more as well as more users who check the site before spraying.

In addition to Nebraska, DriftWatch now features information for Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Saskatchewan. More states are considering DriftWatch as well.