By JEFF BURBRINK
Extension Educator Purdue Extension
GOSHEN — If you are a beekeeper or raise sensitive crops like vegetables or fruit, I strongly encourage you to sign up for DriftWatch and/or BeeCheck. These two online registries may help to save your bees or crop.
Both BeeCheck and Driftwatch are free services, designed to help pesticide applicators know the location of potential sensitive issues. You can access them through the internet. You first set up an account, and then map the location where your sensitive crop or bee hives will be located in 2017. Pesticide applicators can then use the FieldWatch portion of the program to determine if there are potential issues in the immediate area where they plan to spray.
If you do not have internet access, or are unsure of how to operate the DriftWatch website, please contact Beth Carter, who works with the FieldWatch program at the Office of the Indiana State Chemist. She will be able to offer assistance in creating an account and mapping your fields. Their number is (765) 494-1492.
When you sign up for DriftWatch or BeeCheck, it will ask for a current email address. Email is an easy and efficient way to contact users. However, the developers understand that some users, like many of our Amish or Mennonite growers, may not have an active email account. In these cases, communications can be made through the user’s phone number or address.
I know of several situations last year where DriftWatch alerted applicators of the location of bee hives or vegetables growing nearby. I am also aware of several fields where vegetable growers had some serious drift issues, and at least one cluster of bee hives that were destroyed an insecticide application.
Using these communication tools does not reduce your liability as an applicator, because any off target application is the responsibility of the applicator. However, using BeeCheck, DriftWatch and FieldWatch may help you avoid some very expensive mistakes.