SDDA Sensitive Site Registry: Protecting Sensitive Areas From Chemical Drift

The SD Dept. of Ag. recently announced updates to the Sensitive Site Registry. First launched in 2013, the Sensitive Site Registry is designed for producers and applicators (private and commercial) to better understand where chemical and fertilizer drift and misapplications are to be avoided. This registry has the potential to be an excellent tool in fostering positive communications between those who apply chemicals and those who are concerned with drift, and SDDA specifically created the registry to provide information about farms and ranches that would be adversely affected by accidental fertilizer or pesticide application or drift.

Not only will the registry now accept smaller acreage projects but recent upgrades have made mapping sensitive site easier than ever. The registry is user friendly, easily navigable, and includes a tutorial that walks producers and applicators through the simple registration process.

The registry provides a host of pre-determined categories to choose from ranging from bee apiaries to organic crops to grassfed beef (see legend at right); it also offers producers the opportunity to self- identify whatever ‘product’ they may want protected. Some examples of self-identified options might include areas where biological control agents have been released, native prairie seed production, high diversity CRP or pollinator plantings, or a variety of other land uses or products. Although allowing for land registry down to ½ acre, the site is not intended for residential use. Private and commercial applicators are strongly encouraged to register as well, as they will receive regular updates when sensitive sites are added in their work area.

South Dakota law is explicit with regards to chemical application standards. This includes the requirement that chemicals be applied by appropriately licensed applicators and that chemicals are not to be applied to non-target areas; however, accidents can and do occur. One need not register land on the registry to be fully covered by the law and the process by which SDDA processes drift complaints. The registry will most certainly help in avoiding these situations from the outset by providing applicators with a ‘reminder’ that sensitive sites occur in their application area.

The registry is designed as a two-part process. Part one is related to “Producers”. Producers are those who want to register a sensitive site. A producer logs onto the registry site, creates a user name and password, provides a bit of background/contact information, identifies what is sensitive, and then draws the boundary of the site. Once submitted the SDDA sends an email confirming the site has been accepted into the registry. Part two of the systems is built for applicators. Registered applicators receive updates of sensitive sites in their normal work area, providing them a very useful tool when planning their spray applications.

The registry does not limit an owner/operator from utilizing chemicals. Timing, chemical type, and conditions all dictate the ‘appropriate’ chemical application plan. By utilizing the registry, producers are given an opportunity to proactively remind applicators to avoid undesirable chemical drift that is not consistent with their management goals and objectives for their own property.

South Dakota’s native pastures still harbor some excellent species diversity in many locations. It is not uncommon to hear complaints from producers who receive drift from spray operations that occur on neighboring pastures or crop fields. With the continually heightening awareness of the value of diversity for livestock, wildlife, and pollinators, this tool can also help producers proactively protect species diversity in pastures and prairies across the state.

How to Access the Sensitive Site Registry

Visit the SDDA Sensitive Site Registry website to get started.

You can also visit the South Dakota Department of Agriculture website, click on ‘Agricultural Services’ and on the dropdown menu select ‘Pesticide Program’ and then ‘Compliance’. At the bottom of the compliance list you will see a label ‘Sensitive Sites’. Click on the label ‘Pesticide Sensitive Crop Registry for Commercial Crop and Livestock Producers and Pesticide Applicators’. A great “Producer Overview Video” is available, which walks you through a simple step by step registration procedure.

When is it appropriate to file a complaint?
The SDDA reminds producers and landowners that filing a complaint is appropriate

  • If damage has been done to the environment (trees, bushes etc.) or a non-target field because of spray drift
  • If you notice pesticide drift occurring while an applicator is spraying
  • A spill of over 25 gallons of liquid material or 500 lbs. dry material occurs

A complaint must be filed within 30 days after the date the damage occurs. If a growing crop is allegedly damaged, the complaint must be filed before 75 percent of the crop has been harvested.

For more information on SD law related to chemical and fertilizer use, see SD Codified Law Chapter 38-21: Agricultural Pesticide Application.

Source: Pete Bauman, South Dakota State University =

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