As spring rolls toward Arkansas and growers begin to approach their planting dates, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is encouraging growers throughout the state to make use a new program designed to help them identify herbicide-sensitive crops, and adjust their spraying accordingly.
CropCheckTM, a new program offered in partnership with FieldWatch®, is designed to help farmers prevent damage to their neighbors. The partnership between FieldWatch — a not-for-profit company that hosts registries that map locations of pesticide-sensitive crops and bee hives — and the Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service will also enable Arkansas producers to have access to two other FieldWatch products, DriftwatchTM for peanuts and specialty crops, and BeeCheckTM for bee hives.
The program, which is free and voluntary, may prove especially valuable in 2019, in light of recent Arkansas Plant Board decisions regarding the permissible use of herbicides with known volatility issues.
“Farmers in 21 states and one Canadian province are working with FieldWatch in an effort to increase communication, collaboration and awareness to prevent problems with off-target spraying,” said Vic Ford, interim associate director for agriculture and natural resources-extension for the Division of Agriculture. “The work FieldWatch was doing came to our attention during the very difficult year Arkansas had in 2017 with some pesticides not staying where applied.”
With CropCheck, row crop producers may submit crop site information. Pesticide applicators can access the site to help determine the scope and location of specialty crops and beehives in their areas. Registered applicators can sign up to receive email notifications when new crop fields or beehives are added to their designated state, county or areas.
DriftWatch will allow commercial producers of specialty crops such as tomatoes, fruit trees, grapes and organic crops to register and map their sites online with a mapping tool and provide contact information about their operation.
BeeCheck has a few additional features for beekeepers and apiaries to communicate their location and site details to applicators.
On March 5, FieldWatch announced several technological advances for 2019, including the ability for users add a layer of data annotation to the site, adding specific notes that may be beyond the scope of the software in typical use, such as the locations of private gardens. This information will be visible only to the user who enters the data, and whomever the user decides to share it with.
To date, Arkansas has 164 producers who have registered more than 800 sites, totaling more than 63,000 acres. Arkansas, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia all joined FieldWatch in 2018.