On the occasion of the “DriftWatch” launch in Canada, Farms.com journalist Amanda Brodhagen talked to Murray Belyk, Manager of Scientific Affairs at Bayer CropScience, about the rationale behind the initiative that brings together provincial beekeepers and local farmers.
“What the beekeepers want to know is when farmers are going to spray insecticide,” Murray said, pointing out that prior to “DriftWatch” it was virtually impossible to know when farmers were going to spray their fields, or where beekeepers had their hives. The online tool now helps the “applicator and the beekeeper know how they can contact each other.”
Beekeepers can then for example move their hives, or arrange to have a field application done in the morning when bees are not out, or the crop farmer can ask the beekeepers to shut the doors of their hives for a short period of time, while the field is being sprayed.
At present, “DriftWatch” functions like Google Maps where users can input their GPS coordinates. All of these registered participants are granted a high level of privacy, reassures Belyk.
In the future, the creators of the app hope to have hives equipped with a barcode so that beekeepers can take a photo with their SmartPhone and check hives “in and out” to let the crop farmer know when it is safe to spray the fields. This advancement is currently in its testing phase.
The “DriftWatch” initiative was originally launched in the USA where 12 states are currently participating in the program with several others expressing interest. The Canadian program was developed in partnership with the Saskatchewan Aerial Applicators Association (pesticide users), Saskatchewan Beekeepers’ Association, Dow Agro, Bayer Crop Science, and the provincial government.
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