Specialty crop producers, pesticide applicators can work together to protect sensitive crops

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Specialty crops, like fruits, vegetables, hops and honey, add value and diversity to Nebraska agriculture, the state’s number one industry. That’s why the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) encourages growers and outdoor pesticide applicators to work together to protect sensitive commercial specialty crops and pollinators from pesticides. Pesticides include all categories of pest control products such as herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

“Specialty crops are one way for Nebraska farm and ranch families to diversify and grow their agriculture businesses,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “In order to protect and support specialty crop producers and agriculture in Nebraska, growers and pesticide applicators need to communicate with one another throughout the planting and growing season to raise awareness of specialty crops and beehives in the area.”

DriftWatch and BeeCheck are online mapping services from FieldWatch that allow those with commercial specialty crops, organic crops and beehives to report their field locations. Farmers and other pesticide applicators can review the map to see where specialty crops are located. Included in the registry are commercial apiary sites, vineyards, orchards, fruit and vegetable grow sites, nursery and Christmas tree production sites and certified organic and transitional organic crops.

These online mapping services help satisfy requirements concerning restricted use pesticide (RUP) dicamba products. Pesticide applicators planning to use RUP dicamba products are required to complete online training and locate specialty crops in the area before using RUP dicamba products. Online pesticide applicator training is available through Nebraska Extension.

In Nebraska, 927 growers have registered a total of 2,007 specialty crop and apiary sites on FieldWatch. Those sites are currently found in 80 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, and contain over 105,000 acres of specialty crops.

Registration is voluntary, free, easy to use and secure. Pesticide applicators can view the map, sign up for free email alerts and get the free FieldCheck app, or receive direct data feeds or downloads. NDA monitors the FieldWatch registries for the state. Information about FieldCheck, DriftWatch and BeeCheck can be found at bit.ly/NDAfwinfo, or by calling Craig Romary, NDA Program Specialist, at 402-471-2351.