Monday, June 30, 2014

You live in Iowa - so deal with it

I may have heard this one too many times.  A person tells me about the day they were outside at the edge of X town in Iowa and then they smell the chemicals from a nearby field.  Then they say, "Well, it's rural Iowa, I guess you have to expect it."

I've heard people say this even if they witness droplets hitting their windshields as they drive down the road.  Or when they rush their children into the house and then spend time emptying and cleaning the pool before they let the kids get back into it after an aerial application on nearby fields.  I've heard people say this after they witness an applicator ground spraying on a day when the wind is blowing their way at 30 miles per hour.  "Well, it's Iowa, I guess you have to expect it."

I am tired of hearing this.  It is just an excuse.  No, we do NOT have to expect it.  Nor should we accept it.  It is time for us to dispense with the excuse that "we live in Iowa, so you have to expect drift from chemical applications." 

As an Iowan, I was raised to understand that part of being a good citizen was to take care of the things you need to do efficiently and effectively without infringing on the rights of others in the process.  I believe that there are practical approaches and solutions that we, as Iowans, can embrace that will effectively address the problems of chemical drift and misapplication.  But, first, we have to admit there is a problem and part of that process is to learn how to report misapplication issues so we can get a sense of the extent of the problem and the possible causes.

As an Iowan, I was also raised to prize practical approaches and common sense.  Chemical drift and misapplication defies both practicality and common sense.  Ignoring use labels, weather conditions, spray rates and potential to volatilize is a disservice to the farmer who has contracted the application as well as to those adjacent to the land where the application is to made.  In our annual rush to complete all of our application tasks, short cuts are taken and mistakes are made.  These mistakes result in contaminated rivers (that much of our state uses as drinking water), specialty crop losses from farms that are working to diversify Iowa's economic landscape, a reduction in pollinators that are important for many of our crops and medical issues for our people that we are only now beginning to learn more about.

We are better than this.  We are capable and innovative.   Now we just have to be willing to admit there is a problem and address it.


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