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Organic Agriculture and Pesticide Drift. Michael L. White and Kathleen Delate. Modified by Georgia Agriculture Education Curriculum Office June 2002. What is organic agriculture?.

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organic agriculture and pesticide drift

Organic Agriculture and Pesticide Drift

Michael L. White and

Kathleen Delate

Modified by Georgia Agriculture Education Curriculum Office

June 2002

what is organic agriculture
What is organic agriculture?

“Organic agriculture uses naturally occurring amendments for fertilization and pest control. Fields must be free from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for a minimum of 3 years. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are not allowed. Animals grown organically feed on organic grains and pasture. Synthetic hormones or antibiotics are restricted. The foods are processed, packaged and distributed without the use of synthetic pesticides, artificial preservatives or irradiation.”

organic history
Most food and fiber prior to 1940 was organic

Organic crop production is now a $4.2 billion industry in the U.S.

1989-1996 saw a 20% annual growth rate in the U.S.

Certified organic acres in Iowa

1996 - 21,733

1997 - 62,000

1998 - 100,000 +

Organic history
organic agriculture laws
Organic agriculture laws
  • U.S. Organic Food Production Act of 1990
    • Rules out by 2000?
  • Iowa Food Production Act of 1988 - Code of Iowa Chapter 190C
    • Law rewritten in 1998 to establish state certification requirements
Crops must be certified organic by 1 of 6 organic agencies in Iowa

Cropping records for a minimum of 3 yrs, preferably 5 yrs.

Field or farm organic for past 3 years

Organic farm plan

Use a crop rotation 3 out of 4 years

Audit trail of production, input, harvest, storage, sales and transportation

pesticide drift
Pesticide drift
  • Against the law
  • Accidental pesticide drift can result in loss of a high value crop for 3 years
  • Pesticide residue analysis is expensive
droplet size vs drift distance
Droplet size vs. drift distance

*Dv0.5, m

Source: Herbicide Spray Drift, NDSU Extension

idals drift case examples
IDALS drift case examples
  • Command® drift on organic garden in 1997 resulted in $755 civil penalty and unknown damage claim to organic producer.
  • Custom applicator accidentally sprayed outside 2 rounds of a 49 acre organic oats field in spring of 1998. Case has not been resolved.
drift precautions
25 to 30 foot buffer strip required but wider is recommended


Know your neighbors

Read the label

Know wind direction and speed

Use nozzles producing larger droplets

Avoid volatile herbicides


clopyralid (Stinger®)

dicamba (Banvel®, Clarity®)

Drift precautions
other options
Drift retardants

Cultivation instead of postemerge spraying

Pesticide-free crop rows adjacent to organic buffer areas

Pesticide-free forage crops next to organic crops

Enroll buffer areas into CRP, wetland reserve or forestry reserve

Other ideas?

Other options
report drift complaints to
Report drift complaints to:

Chuck Eckermann

Chief, Pesticide Bureau

Iowa Dept. of Ag & Land Stewardship

Henry A. Wallace Building

Des Moines, IA 50319

(515) 281-8591

organic information
Maury C. Wills

IDALS - Organic Food Production and Certification

(515) 281-5783


Kathleen Delate

Iowa State University

Organic Crops Specialist

(515) 294-7069


Organic information