After more than a year of analysis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently placed its recommendations regarding herbicide-drift tolerance on hold. That’s because EPA officials received more than 5,000 letters, phone calls and other feedback from farmers, ag dealers and educators who felt the spraying recommendations were unfair.
The proposed EPA guidelines included restrictions on spraying whenever wind speeds exceeded 10 mph and stated that nozzle heights could not be more than 4 feet off the ground.
Jean Trobec, government relations director with the Illinois Chemical and Fertilizer Association, says studies have shown that there are few days in the spring and fall when wind speeds were under 10 mph in Illinois. Western states have even fewer days where wind speeds are under 10 mph.
Bryan Young, an agronomist at Southern Illinois University, in Carbondale, Ill., has done 3 years of research on herbicide-drift concerns. “Without a doubt, there is more opportunity for drift to occur because of post-emergence application,” says Young, who will analyze several new highly effective no-till weed-control measures at January’s National No-Tillage Conference.
While Young’s work has focused largely on varying chemical droplet sizes to overcome drift concerns, he’s also looking at the instances of drift and how different application methods affect the efficient and safe use of herbicides.