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Website Aims to Prevent Accidental Pesticide Damage

HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Department of Agriculture will hold a meeting July 18 in Helena to help launch Driftwatch, an online directory of crop locations sensitive to spray drift from neighboring fields.

The idea behind Driftwatch is to help applicators and producers communicate more effectively about the location of crops that are particularly sensitive to pesticides including fruits, vegetables, sugar beets, potatoes and certified organic crops for which most pesticides are prohibited.

A training to describe the service and help users register will be held from 9 a.m. to noon July 18 at the department auditorium at 302 N. Roberts Street. Invitations to the public meeting are being sent to agricultural organizations, pesticide applicators, organic crop producers and other interested groups. The new website will go live on Aug. 1 and will be linked from the department’s homepage at http://agr.mt.gov.

DriftwatchTM software was created at Purdue University in cooperation with the Office of the Indiana State Chemist and has been adapted for use in six other states. It uses high resolution Google Maps aerial photos and enables crop producers to mark field locations and identify them by crop category. Commercial applicators can view flagged areas on the maps and receive email notification when sensitive crops are planted within their service territories.

The free service is not designed for residential locations or for sites with less than one-half acre. Registry data is managed by an independent steward who approves field sites prior to posting on the Driftwatch map.

A limited number who would like to receive the training but cannot attend the meeting will be able to view the presentation and listen in via Internet modem. For information on remote access, contact Lynn Knight at the department at (406) 444-5400 or by email at LKnight@mt.gov.

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