American Innovators Step in Again – This Time to Tackle Pesticide Spray Drift and Protect People and the Environment

When I am out in the field in rural farm communities it’s obvious to me that when pesticides drift it creates problems for everyone. Drift happens when pesticide application sprays and dusts move through the air and land where they’re not intended to be. Both farmers and neighbors want them landing on the crop rather than on nearby properties, streams, and wildlife.

American innovators are stepping in to solve the problem. For several years, EPA has worked with innovators from government to industry to academia to facilitate a viable approach to pesticide drift. These innovators are turning the drift problem into a business opportunity, spurring innovation.

We are now launching the Drift Reduction Technology (DRT) program, which has the potential to reduce up to 90 percent of pesticide drift. The voluntary program encourages the manufacture, marketing and use of safer spray technologies and equipment (like low drift nozzles, spray shields and certain drift-reduction oils or other liquids that can be added to the pesticide spray tank), scientifically verified to significantly reduce pesticide drift.

The use of innovative technologies could substantially reduce pesticide movement into nearby properties and the environment while saving farmers money in pesticide product loss. EPA is encouraging pesticide manufacturers to label their products for use with DRT technologies.

Here’s how the program works:

  • Manufacturers of spray nozzles (and other technologies or equipment) interested in participating conduct a special study and submit the results to EPA verifying that their products reduce pesticide drift.
  • We assign a drift-reduction star rating to the tested technology or equipment, based on a 25 to 90% or more reduction of potential spray drift (after evaluating the data and verifying the results). The safest technologies have the 4 star rating.
  • We list the safer spray drift nozzles or technologies or equipment and their specific drift-reduction star ratings on http://www2.epa.gov/reducing-pesticide-drift
  • Pesticide manufacturers get permission from us to change their pesticide labels for application with technologies with a particular drift-reduction rating.
  • Pesticide applicators can search for safer spray nozzles, or other technology or equipment, on our website at http://www2.epa.gov/reducing-pesticide-drift that match the label instructions for the pesticide they want to use.

The new star rating system will help farmers reduce drift, protecting neighbors and keeping more of the pesticide on the crop, which reduces costs. Certainly, there’s a demand for innovative pesticide application technologies that can keep more of the pesticide where it was applied. With the new DRT program, we’ll start to see drift-reduction ratings appear on pesticide labels as early as fall 2015.

I’m optimistic that, over time, the DRT program will expand and evolve, moving the agricultural sector toward the widespread use of low-drift technologies to better protect the health of people and our planet, while saving farmers money.

Find out more about DRT and other EPA efforts to reduce pesticide drift.

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