Bees, specialty crops and pesticide applicators can live in harmony
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Pesticide Section, with funding from the Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund, has purchased DriftWatch software, a voluntary communication tool that enables crop producers, beekeepers, and pesticide applicators to work together to protect specialty crops and apiaries through use of the DriftWatch registry mapping program.
This program is completely voluntary. However, the more people who use it, the more successful this will be.
North Carolina is the 14th state to join this voluntary, non-profit program.
Beekeepers: Map my hives
Farmers: Plot my spot
Farmers: Map my rows
Step-by-step instructions on how to sign-up:
Is this program mandatory?
No. This program is completely voluntary.
Will I be fined by the N.C. Pesticide Board if I join and there is a pesticide violation?
No, there will not be any additional penalties against an applicator for joining or not joining. This is a voluntary, non-regulatory program. Any violations against state pesticide laws will be treated as normal.
FAQs Regarding FieldWatch and the Online Registry
What is FieldWatch?
FieldWatch, Inc. is a non-profit company created to develop and expand the operation of the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry. To support the rapid growth of DriftWatch outside of Indiana, Purdue University collaborated with other agricultural stakeholder groups in the creation of a non-profit corporation called FieldWatch in December 2013. The new company, which is located off-campus at the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette, IN, has fully assumed the operational responsibilities of DriftWatch and developed a national platform for the website.
What is DriftWatch?
DriftWatch is a voluntary online specialty crop site registry and mapping program created by Purdue's Agriculture Department. The University's successful web based program, launched in Indiana in 2008, has been effective in allowing both farmers and applicators to identify, map and communicate where high-value pesticide-sensitive crops are being grown as part of ongoing stewardship activities. DriftWatch has quickly caught the attention of other states and provinces in Canada. As a primary stakeholder, the respective state departments of agriculture provide a key leadership role in implementing, administering and financially supporting this effective stewardship communication tool.
What is the difference between FieldWatch and DriftWatch?
FieldWatch is a company. DriftWatch is the online mapping and registry tool the company operates.
How does DriftWatch work?
Producers of high-value specialty crops, such as tomatoes, fruit trees, grapes and vegetables, register and map their sites online with an easy-to-use mapping tool and provide contact information about their operation. Likewise, commercial beekeepers register and map their hives the same way. Pesticide applicators access the site to help determine the scope and location of specialty crops and beehives in their trade areas. Registered applicators can sign up for email notifications when new fields or beehives are add to their designated state, county or areas. DriftWatch provides the platform to facilitate better awareness, communication and interaction between all parties as one part of ongoing stewardship activities.
Who can use DriftWatch?
DriftWatch is free and the site locations are viewable by the public, but not just anyone can register sensitive sites or fields. The tool is for specialty crop producers, beekeepers and pesticide applicators. Only managers and owners of specialty crop fields that are used for commercial production and are of at least a half-acre will have fields approved. It is not intended for homeowners.
Why should I join as a voluntary member of FieldWatch?
We are a non-profit company that relies on donations and sponsor to keep DriftWatch operational, up-to-date and a useful tool for producers and growers. Because DriftWatch is free to use, the voluntary membership is a means to generate revenue from companies, organizations and individuals that want to get involved and demonstrate their support of the DriftWatch registry. Different member benefits are being developed and will be provided, such as direct data feed subscriptions to member applicators.
Are there membership fees for joining FieldWatch?
Yes, but membership is voluntary and DriftWatch is free. The fee structure associated with voluntary membership allows FieldWatch to support and improve upon the efforts of the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry. Generally, the fee for applicators is $100/yr and the fee for producers is $50/yr. Additional details are available on the FieldWatch Membership Page.
Is the DriftWatch website still free to use?
Yes! DriftWatch is free to use. FieldWatch has implemented a voluntary membership structure as a means of raising funds to further support and develop DriftWatch. If you wish to join as a FieldWatch member, there is a fee structure associated with membership. The DriftWatch registry remains free to use regardless of whether users choose to join FieldWatch as members or not.
What states support FieldWatch and are part of the DriftWatch registry?
Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wisconsin. The province of Saskatchewan, Canada has recently joined.
What types of memberships are available?
The membership categories are as follows:
- Member States: State Departments of Agriculture that pay to be included in the DriftWatch registry and are provided access to the data to help support participation, data accuracy and data integrity.
- Registered User Members: Producers and applicators who use DriftWatch and want to participate as members of FieldWatch, Inc.
- Licensee Members: Entities and organizations that license access to DriftWatch data or data services and provide DriftWatch data to member applicators for integration into compatible application software programs.
- Sponsoring Members: Individuals and organizations interested in supporting FieldWatch, Inc. and being included as members with a stake in its success.
- Associates: Individuals who desire to support FieldWatch and be included in member meetings, updates and benefits.
How can I participate in FieldWatch if my state has not implemented the program yet?
We are currently in the process of trying to expand our efforts. The more people who use and like the DriftWatch website registry, the higher the demand will be for more states to implement the program. Spreading the word about DriftWatch and FieldWatch is important. It might be beneficial for individuals and grower/applicator groups to contact their State Department of Agriculture indicating the desire and need for such a program in their state.
What is a data steward?
Each DriftWatch state has a data steward (in some cases 2 or 3 data stewards), who is employed through the state's Department of Agriculture. These data stewards provide a key leadership role in implementing and administering the DriftWatch effective stewardship communication tool. When you register with DriftWatch, your state data steward will receive your request. He or she will either approve or deny this request based on the criteria for becoming a user. If problems arise while using the registry, your state data steward can offer assistance or direct you to someone who can answer your question.
Jason Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jennifer Johnston (email@example.com) are the data Stewards for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Contact them at 919-733-3556.
FAQs for DriftWatch Users: Producers & Beekeepers
What happens if I am not very good with a computer?
If you don't have a computer or are unsure of how to operate the DriftWatch website, please contact your state's data steward who will be able to offer assistance in creating an account and mapping your fields. You can find the contact information for your state's data steward through the DriftWatch website by selecting your state and then clicking on the "Contact Us" tab on the far right of the page.
What do I do if I don't have an email address?
To become a DriftWatch user, it is convenient to have an active and current email address. It's easier and more efficient to contact users via email. We understand that some users may not have an active email account. In these cases, communications can be made through the user's phone number or address.
If I have problems mapping my fields, who should I contact?
There are state-specific data stewards identified on the DriftWatch website. If you have trouble with mapping your fields, you may contact your state's data steward and they can help you.
Can just anyone put in a pesticide-sensitive area?
No. In order to map a pesticide sensitive area (and get it approved), you must be producing the crop for commercial use. The site is not intended for homeowners who have small gardens. In order to become a producer and map your sensitive areas, you must have a commercial site that is at least a half-acre.
Can I register my apiaries if I am not a commercial beekeeper or produce honey for commercial use?
Hobbyist and commercial beekeepers can both use BeeCheck in North Carolina.
What are the requirements for mapping my beehives?
We ask that beekeepers map the specific location of each of their beehives. If beekeepers wish to include the foraging area, they must limit that area to their own property. Areas that expand further than the hive's location and/or the beekeeper's property may not be approved. If beehives are in close proximity to each other, it is ok to map them together and indicate in the notes section the number of hives.
If I have a rotating crop field or mobile beehive, how can I easily map it and keep it up-to-date?
The "Active Dates" feature, which appears when you are registering a site, makes it easy to put a time stamp on your crop field or beehive. If you know your field or hive will no longer be active in that area after a certain date, you can select an expiration date for the site. If you know your field or hive will not be active until a certain date, you can also select a specific start/activation date. You can always go back and make modifications to these dates (and other features) by selecting "make changes to this site" from the information box of your site when logged in.
How should I identify my specialty crop if it is not an option under the crop type category?
The crop type category includes the most relevant specialty crops grown in each state. The "fruits" and "vegetables" categories are broad enough to cover a wide range of specialty crops. If you need to identify a crop that is not in the drop down menu, please select "other" and provide the crop information in the "additional notes" section.
Can conventional crops be included in DriftWatch?
Generally speaking, no. The DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry is intended for specialty crops and apiaries. However, conventional crops that are Certified Organic are treated as a specialty crop and are allowed in the registry. For these entries, the crop grown is to be identified in the notes section of the registration process. Specialty crops can be identified as "organically grown" or "certified organic," but only "certified organic" is permitted with conventional crop fields.
How can I order field signs to mark my fields and/or apiaries?
Producers with at least one site registered and approved through DriftWatch may purchase the "No Drift Zone" signs for providing additional identification of their sensitive site locations. Signs may be purchased by logging-in on the producer tab of the DriftWatch website, selecting your approved field, and clicking the "Purchase no drift signs." You may select a single sign or two-pack of signs using a credit card to complete your order.
Will enrolling my sensitive sites ensure that pesticides are not sprayed near my property?
No. The purpose of DriftWatch is to promote communication and awareness between pesticide applicators and specialty crop producers to reduce incidences of off-target exposure. We encourage growers and applicators to continue a personal dialogue so that concerns can be reduced. We also encourage you to take a look at your state's pesticide regulatory agency for more information on the agricultural policies in place in your area. The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) is a helpful tool that provides resources by state. Another is the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials (AAPCO) for similar resources.
FAQs for DriftWatch Users: Applicators
Do applicators have to register to use DriftWatch?
No. DriftWatch is voluntary and publicly available. Applicators just need to access the map from the home page and zoom into the area in which they are interested to see the registered crop and apiary sites that have been submitted and approved.
What benefit is it to applicators to register on DriftWatch?
Registered applicators can identify the state, counties or area within a State in which they want to receive automated email notifications for each new specialty site that gets approved in their area.
Is there increased liability to the applicator due to DriftWatch providing information of sensitive crop sand beehives?
No. "Pesticide product labels set the standard of care," according to legal opinion that FieldWatch sought. FIFRA mandates that applicators must use the products in accordance with the instructions on their labels. DriftWatch is just another tool the applicator can use to be better informed to avoid drift.
Is there increased liability for applicators if they don't use DriftWatch?
No. According to the legal opinion provided to Fieldwatch, "So long as an applicator follows label directions for measures related to avoiding drift, as well as any statutes or regulations related to avoiding drift, an applicators failure to use DriftWatch should not be stand-alone basis to establish a claim for negligence or gross negligence." As an informational tool, DriftWatch may help an applicator avoid drift, and therefore, reduce claims and overall liability. However, the liability related to any single incident remains the same.
Does DriftWatch create a higher standard of care for applicators?
No. Based on prevailing case law, legal opinion provided to FieldWatch suggests there is not a "higher standard of care beyond a duty of care framed by a pesticide's label instructions and statutes/regulations related to drift avoidance."
Does using DriftWatch reduce an applicator's liability?
No. It is the responsibility of the applicator to avoid drift; and the liability associated with any incidence is the same whether or not DriftWatch is used. However, "an applicator may effectively argue its use of DriftWatch prior to application is evidence, as part of broader evidentiary showing of due care... that the applicator met the standard of care," and was not negligent by having used information at his/her disposal to make a proper application.