An aggressive push for additional states to be part of the DriftWatch and BeeCheck programs is underway.
The whole idea is to have mapped sites of where specialty crops and bee aviaries are located in each “member state” so that farmers and commercial applicators know about the areas of sensitivity and to plan their stewardship of product use and application timing.
DriftWatch was the original program, and BeeCheck has become an additional emphasis, noted Bob Walters, business development for FieldWatch, Inc.
DriftWatch was originally designed by staff of Purdue University Agricultural and Biological Engineering and Agricultural Communications departments with input and support from Purdue University Cooperative Extension specialists.
DriftWatch and the newer BeeCheck is now a national registry platform operated by FieldWatch, Inc., which is a non-profit company created by Purdue in collaboration with and sponsored by agricultural stateholder groups.
As Walters explained, both commercial producers of specialty crops and commercial beekeepers register and map fields or hive locations using an online, easy-to-use mapping tool. Each producer and beekeeper also provides their contact information.
The mapping and information is then available for pesticide applicators to access the website and see exactly what might be within their service area. DriftWatch and BeeCheck sites are viewable by the public.
It is stressed that DriftWatch is for commericial operations of specialty crop fields, orchards, etc. of at least half an acre. Individual states participating in the DriftWatch program have “stewards” who have the responsibility of approving or denying online listings.
Commercial applicators can register to receive e-mail alerts when a new commercial specialty crop or apiary site is registered in the state or the local service area in which the applicator works.
DriftWatch is a low cost program for use because funds are being generated from companies, organizations and individuals that support the concept of an easy-to-use online registry. There is a membership fee structure that in general is $100 per year for applicators and $50 per year for producers.
At last count, there were 13 states and the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, involved with the program, but more states were being signed up. Complete information is available at www.fieldwatch.com.