AEM, ARA Host Spray Drift Field Day

EPA officials listen to representatives from NAAA and Helicopter Applicators, Inc. regarding drift reduction technologies and practices during the Spray Drift Field Day June 15 in Queenstown, Md.More than 30 officials from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs attended a Spray Drift Field Day hosted by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers and the Agricultural Retailers Association June 15.

The event, held at the University of Maryland Wye Research and Education Center about an hour from Capitol Hill in Queenstown, Md., introduced regulators to various drift reduction and precision agriculture technologies from several manufacturers. The event was designed to show the EPA officials the full spectrum of capabilities of modern precision agricultural equipment.

“We want to engage with and educate EPA officials on spray drift is because programs such as the DRT registry are narrowly focused on nozzles,” said Nick Tindall, Government Relations Director for AEM. “Their drift models don’t reflect the full spectrum of modern drift control options available to producers.”

The National Agricultural Aviation Association also participated in the event. An area company demonstrated a helicopter applicator and the practices and technologies aerial applicators are using to minimize drift.

The field day featured spray drift reduction demonstrations from John Deere, Case IH, GVM, AGCO, TeeJet, Helicopter Applicators, Inc., and Hardi.

“It’s important for us as an industry to come together for an event like this,” said Connor Bergin, AGCO Marketing Manager. “It shows our commitment to stewardship and that we take (drift reduction) seriously.”

“We had good interactions with the EPA and state pesticide officials who attended,” Bergin added. “They are educated and informed about the issues and asked high-level questions about application rates, nozzles and other technologies we’ve implement on our application equipment.”

Several area agricultural retailers also attended the event.

“There is a lot of education happening here both for us and for the EPA representatives,” said Kyle Springs Operations Compliance Manager for Crop Production Services. “I think it was eye-opening for them to see that the industry is working on technology to control drift through other means besides the nozzle.”

Farmers, commercial applicators and regulators all working towards a common goal – trying to minimize waste, added Springs.

“From our perspective, EPA has been trying to find a one-size-fits-all solution. This type of event keeps everyone from working in a vacuum so regulators realize it’s a bigger issue with a broad set of tools. The nozzle is just one part.

With the outstanding turnout and success of the Spray Drift Field Day, discussions are already underway between ARA, AEM and NAAA to replicate and expand this event at a future date.

“This was a great event for industry and regulators to interface,” said Jeff Price, General Manager with Growmark FS in Milford, Del. “I think the EPA officials who attended appreciated the opportunity to better understand the agricultural applications of drift reduction technologies. I hope it leads to more complementary, common sense regulations.”