Source: Iowa Farm Bureau
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship this week highlighted the success of the revamped Iowa Sensitive Crops Registry and encouraged eligible producers and apiarists to register or re-save their data for the 2018 growing season.
“We have been encouraged to see such a strong response to the updated directory and the positive feedback to the improved mapping features, streamlined data entry, and increased accuracy. We hope both farmers and applicators will continue take advantage of the directory to promote better communication around sensitive sites,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.
The Department launched the updated directory last January in partnership with the nonprofit FieldWatch, Inc. Since then, more than 1,500 producers of pesticide sensitive crops have registered 740 Iowa fields covering almost 33,000 acres. Apiarists in the state have registered over 1,700 apiaries containing over 11,000 beehives.
Of the 14 states that participated in the FieldWatch program in 2017, Iowa ranked number one in listed beehives, second in apiaries, third in the number of registered producers, and fourth in the number of registered fields. Pesticide applicators have also embraced the registry: at 513 registered applicators, Iowa ranked first among participating states in this category in 2017.
“These stats really bring home the fact that Iowa’s apiarists and sensitive crop producers, as well as the pesticide applicators that work in the state, have embraced this new registry. In just a twelve month period, Iowa’s standings are comparable to those of states that have been in the program for several years.” Naig said.
The online database provided stakeholders improved means of communication including satellite-image mapping tools that allowed apiarists and producers to visually mark the location of hives and to trace the outlines of production fields of pesticide sensitive crops. Along with these visuals, commercial pesticide applicators could download field and apiary locations as GPS data points. Additional pop-up boxes allowed producers to leave messages for applicators and provide contact information for ongoing communication.
“Once I registered, adding hive locations and tracing out our production fields on the FieldWatch maps was really pretty easy,” reported Bob Shephard, a producer, beekeeper, farmers’ market manager and vendor near Washington, Iowa. “For me, because it’s visual, this new system removed the uncertainty I had before this that I was providing the correct information to the pesticide applicators. That’s gone now.”
The registry was made possible by a monetary award presented to IDALS by the Agribusiness Association of Iowa Foundation in April of 2016. Donors included the Iowa Agriculture Aviation Association, Syngenta Crop Protection, Dow AgroScience, GROWMARK Foundation, Monsanto, BASF, Bayer CropScience, Iowa Wine Growers Association, Crop Production Services, Inc., Helena Chemical, and Meridian Agriculture.
According to David Tierney, Past Chairman of the AAI Foundation, the collaboration and monetary award was a win/win scenario.
“We were really pleased that we could partner with IDALS and FieldWatch to see this new registry become a reality. It’s obvious the state’s beekeepers and sensitive crop growers have embraced this system. And there’s no question that the data presented is more accurate as well as more accessible to the applicators,” Tierney said.
Stephanie Regagnon, CEO of FieldWatch, reports there was great anticipation for Iowa to collaborate with FieldWatch.
“Iowa is a key agricultural state, and the staff and board at FieldWatch were excited when the Iowa Department of Agriculture inquired about partnering with us. As an added bonus, essentially all of the states around Iowa were participating members of FieldWatch, so when Iowa signed on that closed the hole, so to speak, in the Midwest. Applicators that work throughout the Midwest are now able to use the FieldWatch programs over the entire region,” she said.
Staff at IDALS promoted the re-booted registry throughout the winter of 2016-17, promoting its features at annual workshops, conferences, writing press releases, and collaborating with others including staff at ISU’s Pesticide Safety Education Program that work closely with pesticide applicators.
The Department encourages producers and apiarists to register or re-save data they entered into the registry in 2017. Along with apiary sites, half an acre or larger commercial vineyards, orchards, fruit and vegetable grow sites, nursery and Christmas tree production sites, and certified organic crops are included in the registry.
Once registered, producers can log in any time and edit contact and site information. The Iowa Sensitive Crops Registry, and links to the FieldWatch login page can be found at http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/sensitiveCropDirectory.asp . Questions can also be directed to IDALS State Horticulturist, Paul Ovrom, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-242-6239.