FieldWatch launched 12 years ago as a voluntary registry to assist applicators in being aware of where specialty crops were planted. And in the past six months, the voluntary platform has added hemp to the crops that can be listed on the DriftWatch site.
“The 2018 Farm Bill changed the status of hemp for everyone,” FieldWatch CEO Stephanie Regagnon says. “After our board of directors approved adding hemp to our system, we put it out to our participating states. And of our 22 states and 1 Canadian province, 17 states and the Canadian province decided to add hemp.”
One such state offering the hemp listing for the first time in 2020 is North Carolina.
“In North Carolina in 2019, we had 1,404 registered growers with 17,589 acres of production,” says Pat Jones, Deputy director of pesticide programs. “Additionally, we had nearly 7 million square feet of greenhouse production and 989 processors.”
As the hemp industry grows, farmers stand to be benefit in identifying where their crops are planted to avoid drift incidents and increase awareness of in-field sensitivities.
“Hemp is bringing such a new and exciting opportunity for ag, and any tools we have that we can use that ensure success of this new industry it’s a positive thing,” Regagnon says.
The FieldWatch platform is voluntary but has seen up to 100% adoption of some crops in some states, such as grapes.
“There are a lot of anecdotal stories of this mapping system bringing connectivity between growers, applicators and beekeepers creating a community and avoiding an issue,” Regagnon says. “If any kind of applicator—rights of way sprayers, railroad sprayers, agricultural, etc. – learns about the presence of a sensitive crop such as hemp in the area they are about to spray, they can take this information into account to avoid incidental crop damage. They can even contact the grower to learn more about a crop on the site. And in turn, growers can expect if any of those pre-application concerns arise, they will get a call.”
Jones reports in North Carolina having FieldWatch’s BeeCheck registry, which enables the mapping of apiaries, available has created a benefit for the industry, and he sees a similar pattern possible for hemp through DriftWatch.
“The fact that BeeCheck is voluntary has proven to be a benefit, because in the past some beekeepers had a hesitancy to list where their hives were, however, over time we’ve demonstrated the value and it’s been preferable over a mandatory registry,” Jones says. He says since launching the program in North Carolina in 2016, they now have more than 12,485 hives registered.
The seventeen states currently providing hemp as a crop listing are: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Tennessee (and the Canadian province is Saskatchewan.)