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Sensitive crops directory addresses pesticide drift

By Staff | May 8, 2009

By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY/Farm News staff writer

LAKE CITY – Iowans’ growing interest in raising grapes, gardens and bees highlights the need for a directory of sensitive crops and apiaries, which pesticide applicators can use to identify the locations of vineyards, orchards, large farmers market gardens and beehives in each Iowa county.

“The goal is to identify locations that need to be protected from pesticides,” said Jerry Chizek, the Calhoun County education director for Iowa State University Extension. “This online resource from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is searchable by county and by crop type, and it can help to minimize the potential for pesticide drift damage.”

Located at www.iowaagriculture.gov, the sensitive crops directory provides pesticide applicators with the locations of crops that are most susceptible to pesticide drift damage. Crops that can be listed on the registry include vineyards (minimum one acre), orchards (minimum one acre), certified organic crops (minimum one acre), and fruit and vegetable crops (minimum half acre). Fruit and vegetable crops of this size typically involve large gardens that supply farmers’ markets, said Chizek, who spoke at a spring gardening meeting last month in Lake City.

The crops at each registered location must be intended for commercial use, be susceptible to pesticide drift damage and meet the minimum acreage requirements. The registry will accommodate the registration of multiple sensitive crop locations under one producer. If multiple crops are located in the same location, only the primary crop for that location must be listed.

Previously registered producers must confirm their registration information each year between Jan. 1 and April 1 to keep the directory current from year to year. In addition, “no spray” field markers are available on a cost-share basis to registered producers. Markers should be posted at the physical location of the pesticide sensitive crop at a height above the crop canopy that is visible to both ground and aerial applicators, Chizek said.

Iowa’s new bee rule

Along with the Sensitive Crops Directory, Chizek said that pesticide applicators should also be aware of the Iowa Bee Rule, which has been in effect for nearly 30 years, but was modified in January 2009. Since honey bees are beneficial insects that pollinate crops and produce honey and other products, the ruling establishes cooperation between pesticide applicators and beekeepers to prevent unnecessary bee kills, Chizek said.

Under the old Iowa bee rule, applicators planning to apply a pesticide labeled “toxic to honey bees” must contact all registered beehive locations within a two-mile radius of the field being sprayed, and beekeepers must be notified 24 to 72 hours prior to application. The new bee rule, which went into effect on Jan. 22 and amends the “Pesticide/Bee Rule” of the Iowa Administrative Code, states that:

“Between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., a commercial applicator shall not apply to blooming crops pesticides labeled as toxic to bees when the commercial applicator is located within one mile of a registered apiary. A commercial applicator shall be responsible for maintaining the one-mile distance from apiaries that are registered and listed on the sensitive crop registry on the first day of each month.”

Also note that Iowa’s bee rule legally applies to only those pesticides labeled as toxic to bees. “There is some confusion, since some people think the advance notification requirement applies to any pesticide application,” said Chizek, who noted that bees will travel up to two miles from their hive to forage. “You don’t have to worry about a product like Roundup, though, because it’s not toxic to bees. When in doubt, read the product label, because the label is the law.”

Learn more

To find Iowa’s Sensitive Crops Directory, log onto www.iowaagriculture.gov, click on the “Bureaus” link on the left side of the homepage, click on the “Pesticide” link, and finally click on the “Sensitive Crops Directory” link under the “Know Before You Apply” section. The site allows visitors to search for sensitive crops and apiaries or register crops and apiaries.

Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby by e-mail at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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