Pesticide Drift Reduction Starts Now

March 12, 2008

Bob Hartzler, Department of Agronomy

The number of drift complaints in 2007 regarding ground applications of agricultural pesticides received by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship increased by 36 percent compared to 2006, and was nearly double that of 2004. 

The first step in preventing problems with drift is to develop an effective drift management strategy prior to the spray season.  Important considerations include:

  • equipping sprayers with appropriate spray nozzles,
  • effective use of drift retardants,
  • sprayer setup - boom height, operating pressure and driving speed, 
  • identification of drift sensitive locations (organic production, vineyards or other high value crops, concerned neighbors), and 
  • proper education of personnel operating the sprayers. 

While advances in spray technology have improved our ability to keep pesticides on target, successful management of drift ultimately relies on good judgment by the sprayer operator.

By Bob Hartzler is a professor weed science with extension, teaching, and research responsibilities.

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