Pesticide Drift

Pesticide drift occurs whenever pesticide leaves the intended target site through the air during or soon after application.

Pesticide drift may cause injury to farmworkers and other people, particularly children, adjacent crops or other non-target plants, livestock, sensitive areas, fish, and wildlife. Even if visible injury does not occur, illegal residues may be present in adjacent areas. Pesticide drift may also result in regulatory fines, legal liability, and litigation.

When pesticide drift occurs, some part of the pesticide is not reaching its intended target, and the potential benefit from the application is reduced. The likelihood of pesticide drift will be reduced if the applicator understands the relationships among pesticide products, application equipment, and site and weather conditions.

Drift from aerial application

This IS drift…

Drift from boom-sprayer application so IS this
over-spray from aerial application

This is not drift…

over-spray from boom sprayer

neither is this

Photos: Western Crop Protection Assoc., Sacramento, CA

Applicator Responsibility

DicampaPineIt is the applicator’s responsibility to consider all the factors that will impact the drift of a specific pesticide application. Determine if there are any sites near the application area that are particularly at risk from exposure to pesticides. These may include sensitive crops, organic fields, beehives, bodies of water, areas of shallow groundwater, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. Read the pesticide label to determine if the product has any specific warnings or environmental hazards. Write down your plans to avoid pesticide drift into sensitive areas, and follow your plan during application. Keep a copy of the plan with application records.

A brief description of, and links to, the various topics within this module follows:


Initial compilation courtesy of Jim Wilson, PhD

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