Published May 17, 2012

Curious or concerned about pesticide drift? — Attend the May 31st PFI field day to learn more!

By Tamsyn Jones

Pesticide drift monitoring is focus of Practical Farmers of Iowa field day, May 31, near Ames – RSVP by May 24

AMES, Iowa — Keeping pesticides and herbicides on the intended crop and out of neighboring fields is the goal of any farm chemical application. Not only does precise targeting increase a pesticide’s performance, it saves money on follow-up applications. But pesticide drift can’t always be controlled, and particles sometimes waft onto nearby farm fields, yards and communities, risking crop damage and human and animal health.

The issue of pesticide drift, the challenges of preventing it and coping when it happens, will be explored at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day – “Pesticide Drift Monitoring” – May 31, from 4-7:30 p.m., at Mustard Seed Community Farm near Ames.

Staff scientists from the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) will guide the discussion, which will touch on the science behind pesticide drift, the differences between spray drift and volatilization – where pesticide particles vaporize – and attendees will learn about a PAN program, called Drift Catcher, that can help farmers and people who live near farms monitor fields and neighborhoods for instances of drift.

Mustard Seed Community Farm is a small, diversified vegetable farm, now in its fifth year, that seeks to grow healthy food accessible to everyone. Members grow more than 60 different crops to supply the farm’s CSA and food donations. The farm also gives about two-thirds of its produce to soup kitchens and volunteers.

“We are really excited about doing this Drift Catcher program and taking samples on our farm,” says Alice McGary of Mustard Seed Farm. “I think there’s a low level of knowledge about farm chemicals in Iowa, including myself, and everything I learn makes me realize how little regular Iowans know about the effects of the farm chemicals that are being used frequently all over Iowa.”

“With Drift Catcher, we can gather data about how we are really being affected,” she says, “and then we can make informed decisions once we really know how much our neighbors’ farm chemicals affect our home, our bees, our small vegetable farm, and the health of our children.”

The event is free, but space is limited to 30 people. Because of this, RSVP’s are requested by May 24. Contact Tomoko Ogawa at 515.232.5661 or to reserve a spot.

Directions: Mustard Seed Community Farm is located at 366 W Avenue, northwest of Ames. From Interstate 35, take exit 123 for County Road E-18 / 130th Street. Head west about 7 miles to W Avenue, then turn left and drive about one-half mile. The farm will be on the right.

NOTE: In the event of a detour due to bridge construction at Highway 69 and Co. Rd. E-18, turn south on Hwy 69 and go 1 mile to 530th Ave. Turn right (north) and travel 1 mile back to E-18 / 130th St., then continue west / left until W Ave.

The field day is sponsored by the Women, Food and Agriculture Network and Wheatsfield Cooperative.

Practical Farmers of Iowa 2012 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University; the National Center for Appropriate Technology; Seed Savers Exchange; Blue River Hybrids; ISU Extension and Outreach; American Natural Soy; Albert Lea Seed; Gateway Market; the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service; FHR Farms; USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa Organic Association; OPINS Co-op; Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); Calcium Products Incorporated; Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA); High Mowing Seeds; CROPP Cooperative of Organic Valley / Organic Prairie Family of Farms; Plantra; the Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU; and the Iowa Beef Center.


Alice McGary | Mustard Seed Community Farm | 515.460.1467

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | 515.232.5661 |