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Check Driftwatch/FieldCheck (FieldWatch) before you spray

Tana Haugen-Brown, Pesticide safety and environmental education coordinator, and Larry VanLieshout, MN Department of Agriculture

The Driftwatch program has been around for a number of years. This voluntary program’s goal is to promote pesticide sensitive site awareness and enable communication between applicators and producers of sensitive crops to prevent unwanted pesticide drift. DriftWatch is not owned by MDA and it is not a regulatory program. 

Larry VanLieshout from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture shares this important information to help your spray season go well: 

To reduce the potential for pesticide drift injury to sensitive crops and beehives check the FieldCheck (FieldWatch) map prior to application.

FieldCheck, DriftWatch, and BeeCheck are free, voluntary online registries that allow specialty crop producers (including beekeepers) to communicate the location of their pesticide-sensitive sites to pesticide applicators. Applicators can then take necessary precautions to avoid injury due to spray drift. This communication is done by indicating the location of the sensitive sites on an online map. (The FieldWatch program for applicators was renamed “FieldCheck” in early 2019 to reduce confusion between the program and the FieldWatch Company.) The system is based in Google Maps™ and is fairly easy to use. View the current map of registered sensitive sites in Minnesota

Map symbols indicate the crop in that location. Selecting a given marker brings up the contact information for that producer. For detailed instructions on using FieldCheck/FieldWatch see: User Guide: How to Register as an Applicator in FieldWatch or view a FieldWatch Applicator video.

So, why sign up if the map is already available online? Since new sites are added throughout the growing season (Figure 1), applicators need to check the map often. By registering, they can choose to receive email alerts when new sensitive sites are added in their area of operation. Applicators can choose to receive alerts for the entire state, for selected counties, or for a custom drawn area on the map.

Figure 1. Specialty crop sites registered in Driftwatch on two different dates.

Also, more complete information concerning beehive locations is available to registered FieldCheck users. Some beekeepers choose to hide their hive locations on the public map due to concerns of theft and vandalism. However, these hives are displayed on the map of registered applicators.

Be aware that the labels of certain dicamba (Engenia, XtendiMax, FeXapan, Tavium) and 2,4-D (Enlist One, Enlist Duo) containing products for use with herbicide tolerant crops specifically mentions to check the “state sensitive crop registry” prior to application.

Figure 2. Fieldcheck availability in the U.S.
and Canada.
FieldCheck is also available in many neighboring states adding flexibility for applicators that also operate in those areas. North Dakota uses a different system for mapping pesticide sensitive sites. Applicators that operate there should also become familiar with the North Dakota Apiary and Sensitive Site Map.

Recent changes to Fieldcheck

Mobile app

FieldCheck has a mobile app that allows pesticide applicators to access the locations of specialty crops and beehives through their mobile device. This can be done by entering an address, lat/long, or using the location function on their phone. The app is FREE to registered FieldCheck members and is available for both Android and Apple devices.

Add your own notes

Figure 3. Fieldcheck has added an annotation option.
This spring an option to include notes on your map was added. For example, a small private garden or playground can be marked on the map. These notes are not shared with other users and do not go through an approval process.

What has not changed?

The price for most of the services is still free. There is a $100 annual fee to live stream data through software providers.

For additional information, contact Larry VanLieshout, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 651-201-6115.
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