Proposal – Pesticide Spray Drift-Reduction
Technologies: Verification and Incentives
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Environmental Problem Statement
Application of pesticide sprays that benefit agricultural production can result in the sprays being blown by wind. If exposed to the drifting spray, pesticide applicators and other people (e.g., nearby field workers or residents) could face health risks. Near and distant ecosystems, such as water reservoirs and wildlife, may also be exposed.
Information on pesticide spray drift suggests that, with the use of available application equipment, 3 to 5 percent of the amount of pesticides sprayed on crop fields drifts away from the fields. Other information on pesticide production indicates more than 700 million pounds of agricultural pesticides were applied in the United States in 2001.
EPA, pesticide and equipment manufacturers, and university researchers are interested in marketing new cost-effective application technologies and equipment to improve spray deposition and to reduce off-target pesticide movement, exposures, and risks. There are promising drift reduction technologies (DRTs) under consideration; however, research is needed to determine effectiveness. Identification of cost-effective DRTs could lead to incentives for industry to produce and market this technology. Use of DRTs would result in improved protection of farm workers, nearby residents and property, wildlife species, and watersheds.
Definition of the Technology Challenge
Improved pesticide application equipment could reduce inadvertent pesticide residues in the environment. Growers and pesticide applicators in the United States have a variety of application strategies and technologies to reduce spray drift and deposition from target application sites. However, some existing DRTs are commonly used in other countries and have not successfully penetrated the U.S. market.
One of the challenges in deciding whether to adopt the use of new technologies is the uncertainty of their effectiveness or performance in reducing spray drift. This uncertainty affects industries’ willingness to invest in research and development, and marketing. Practical DRTs with proven effectiveness can provide applicators with more options for making pesticide treatments under a wider range of conditions while still meeting environmental goals and requirements.
Milestones, Actions, and Due Dates
EPA’s Office of Research and Development and the Office of Pesticide Programs and various stakeholders are developing a research program to determine the feasibility of establishing a DRT process that will:
The leads of this Action Team began this project in 2003 with a meeting of stakeholders from industry, government, and academia. Participants focused and agreed on problem identification and a proposed step forward. In 2004, the leads held a second meeting with the stakeholders and developed a general action plan. Specific steps and dates are under development. In addition, the team leads will present a paper and the general action plan at the Fourth International Conference on Pesticide Spray Drift in October 2004.