It’s been two years since the online mapping programs DriftWatch and BeeCheck were launched in North Carolina. Since then, it has become a valuable tool for beekeepers, specialty crop growers and pesticide applicators. This month the programs launched two apps to help growers, pesticide applicators and beekeepers. The apps work to increased functionality and ease of use.
For applicators and growers, the FieldCheck app will allow users to access a detailed site map and use the location function on their phone to find sites near them where specialty crops are being grown. The app also offers to update users through notifications when sites are added and removed.
For beekeepers, the BeeCheck app allows ease of moving hives in real-time through GPS. Both the FieldCheck and BeeCheck apps are available free on Apple and Android systems.
The Driftwatch program is a free online mapping program offered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. It is intended to help prevent crop damage and bee deaths due to accidental or unintended pesticide drift. The program has 1,743 apiaries, 10,616 specialty crop acres and 191 applicators signed up for use.
“We have been encouraged by the support we have received from farmers and beekepers about the program,” said Pat Jones, deputy director of pesticide programs. “When we go to meetings and talk to beekeepers and specialty crop growers they tell us that they have gotten calls from their neighbors before spraying. That means the program is doing what it is supposed to do, which is increase communication between pesticide users, beekeepers and specialty crop growers.”
Driftwatch is also North Carolina’s Sensitive Crop Registry, which is required by product label to be checked before making an application of the new dicamba products, such as Engenia, Extendimax, and Fexipan. “Because of this designation, we have seen a recent increase in specialty crop acreage mapped with the program,” said Jones. “This is especially true for tobacco, which is especially sensitive to the dicamba products.
Growers, beekeepers and pesticide users can access DriftWatch and BeeCheck at www.ncagr.gov/pollinators. The website offers detailed instructions on how to sign up and use the mapping tools. Producers of high value specialty crops, such as tomatoes, tobacco, fruit trees, grapes and vegetables, can map their sites and provide contact information about their operation on DriftWatch. Using BeeCheck, beekeepers map their hives online using pins and half-acre circles and can choose which details of hive information are displayed on the map.
FieldWatch Inc. is a nonprofit company created to develop and expand the operation of the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site and BeeCheck Apiary registries. To date, 19 states and 1 Canadian province use the program.
This program was purchased with a grant from the N.C. Pesticide Environmental Trust Fund. It is part of the department’s ongoing efforts to protect and increase valuable pollinators in the state.