Drift control lands on applicators
The Environmental Protection Agency has been collecting comments regarding program changes that will influence how it considers spray drift from ground and aerial application in its risk assessments. Anticipation is that crop protection labels will be written with more restrictions about application, and end-users, both farmers and custom applicators, will have big headaches trying to meet new restrictions to limit drift.
The Spray Drift Risk Assessment Guidance (SDRAG) document and Drift Reduction Technology (DRT) program were open for comment with the SDRAG closed at the end of May and the DRT program scheduled to end as this article went to the printer. Documents put together by the EPA must be evaluated by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
The claim is that the DRT program is voluntary, but cooperation in the program will be highly advantageous because not cooperating could result in major limitations on product use.
Andrew Goetz, Ph.D., manager North America regulatory strategy and product stewardship, BASF, said, “Our labels will get much more restrictive and there will be specific requirements related to spray drift that will need to be followed. The work now is being done on release height, droplet size, etc. Restrictions will make application harder to follow by applicators.”
The EPA has proposed using data compiled by the Spray Drift Task Force (SDTF), which was an agricultural industry task force formed in 1990, and the data compilation is referred to as the AgDrift document.
Michael Leggett, Ph.D., senior director of environmental policy, CropLife America (CLA), noted that the SDTF data used for AgDrift to predict drift from ground application, aerial application and air blast orchard application was good data interpreted very conservatively. “It predicts a lot more drift than what actually occurs today,” he said. “AgDrift is an empirical model that draws the curves and averages of all the data, and that is used for a conservative prediction of drift. The SDTF data is still good, but it is dated.”
CLA, Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA), BASF and other crop protection manufacturers suggest there just isn’t enough data particularly for ground and air blast application and no data from newer technology in AgDrift, because the document is 20 years old. Leggett said the SDTF had many more studies for aerial application than ground application when AgDrift was compiled.
Although the ag industry has filed its concerns and suggestions, there is no indication that the EPA is inclined to alter its original path set out in the documents released for comment. The ag industry is expecting the norm to be more restrictions around the use of pesticides.
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