EPA launches voluntary pesticide program

By Daily Digger
Oregon Association of Nurseries

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new voluntary Drift Reduction Technology (DRT) program. The agency hopes to encourage the use of verified, safer pesticide spray products to reduce exposure and pesticide movement while saving farmers money in pesticide loss.

Annually, up to 10 percent of agricultural pesticide spray is estimated to drift or move from the intended target crop — that’s equal to about 70 million pounds of pesticides, valued at around $640 million, lost to drift. In addition, state agencies use substantial resources each year investigating drift complaints.

“Every year state and local agencies receive thousands of complaints about the impacts of pesticide drift on people, wildlife and plants,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We hope the new voluntary DRT will encourage the manufacture, marketing and use of safer spray technology and equipment scientifically proven to reduce pesticide drift.”

DRT is a voluntary program that encourages manufacturers to test their technologies — nozzles, spray shields and chemicals — for drift reduction potential. EPA encourages pesticide manufacturers to label their products for use with DRT technologies. The four DRT ratings are represented by one, two, three or four stars; The greater the number of stars, the greater the potential reduction of spray drift:

– One star — 25–49 percent reduction
– Two stars — 50–74 percent reduction
– Three stars — 75–89 percent reduction
– Four stars — 90-plus percent reduction

Spray technology manufacturers interested in participating in EPA’s DRT program may submit data verifying their technology reduces pesticide movement. EPA will evaluate each data submission and, if appropriate, assign a drift-reduction star rating to the product based on its ability to reduce spray drift. EPA will post these ratings at http://www2.epa.gov/reducing-pesticide-drift.

Pesticide manufacturers can choose to label a product for use with a DRT of a particular rating after receiving approval from EPA. Over time, the program will move the agricultural sector toward the widespread use of low-drift technologies. Drift-reduction ratings could appear on pesticide labels as early as fall 2015.

Additional information on EPA’s DRT Program, including how to test technologies, is available at http://www2.epa.gov/reducing-pesticide-drift.