Pesticide drift during spraying season

Farm Forum

PIERRE – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture (SDDA) would like to remind pesticide applicators of drift risk during this spraying season.

Applicators should prevent risk of drift to non-target areas or susceptible crops and should evaluate factors such as wind speed, wind direction, temperature, spray pressure, nozzle height and surrounding properties before they begin spraying a field.

Product labels give applicators information about safe handling, rates, personal protective equipment, labeled crops, susceptible crops, tank mixes, avoiding drift, weeds controlled and more. Reading the label of a pesticide is one of the most important things an applicator can do to get a job done correctly and safely.

Although pesticide applicators are trained to apply pesticides safely and products are labeled with instructions to prevent drift, occasionally damage occurs. SDDA receives complaint calls on pesticide drift, damage and a variety of other related incidents.

When it is appropriate to file a complaint? Below are a few suggestions:

• If damage has been done to the environment (trees, bushes etc.) or a non-target field because of spray drift

• If you notice pesticide drift occurring while an applicator is spraying

• A spill of over 25 gallons of liquid material or 500 lbs. dry material occurs

A complaint must be filed within 30 days after the date the damage occurs. If a growing crop is allegedly damaged, the complaint must be filed before 25 percent of the crop has been harvested.

For those who want to be proactive in preventing drift from happening, SDDA has developed the South Dakota Sensitive Sites Registry at This is an online mapping tool which can be used to help prevent adverse drift effects as a result of pesticide or fertilizer applications.

The registry allows producers of crops such as vineyards and organic production areas that are sensitive to pesticides to register by entering their contact information, field data and crops grown. Apiary sites are automatically included on the site through the Apiary Program. Applicators can register their service areas too; this allows the applicator to be informed via email about whatever sensitive sites are in his/her service area, whether old or new.

The Sensitive Sites Registry’s success depends on participation from both producers and applicators. Both are strongly encouraged to sign up. For more information, contact Nick Wuebben at 605.773.4032.