You Can Request Notification of Pesticide Applications
According to Maine’s Drift Regulations, citizens can request prior notification to protect sensitive areas, whether those be their homes, property, drinking water or crop land, from pesticide drift from property owners or lessees who are spraying within 500 feet of their land. It may not hurt to ask more distant sprayers for the same consideration. Organic growers must contact their spraying neighbors to receive a special level of protection from drift damage. The same holds true for protection for your private water supply. Be prepared to provide accurate and specific location information.
To contact these neighbors, contact the landowner, if he or she is known; the pesticide applicator; or the land manager. If you don’t know any of these but do know that the land gets sprayed, ask your town clerk who owns the property in question.
The Request for Notification can be made in any fashion, as long as it informs the person receiving the request of your name, address, telephone number and interest in receiving notification. If you are refused notification for any reason, you have recourse through the Board of Pesticides Control to attempt to resolve the matter.
Note that private citizens can also apply to the Board to have an area designated as “Critical Pesticide Control Area.” You will have to have a hearing before the Board to justify the designation (to protect private watersheds, for example). Also, people who have been sensitized by chemicals and whose health is adversely affected by exposure to pesticides can, with proper medical documentation, have themselves designated as a “Critical Pesticides Control Area.”
General Spray Schedules
Lawn Care and Landscaping Businesses, Golf Courses – Applicators may use ground rigs for insect or disease problems in urban areas, but hand-held power sprayers are usually used for herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. Small warning signs MUST be posted after these sprays are applied, except at golf courses. The BPC encourages the latter to post notices, and some do.
Blueberries – The herbicide VELPAR is applied late in APRIL but is not applied every year. It is mostly ground-applied. GUTHION, another insecticide, is aerially applied (except on some small fields) in JULY. Depending on the level of infestation, two applications of Guthion may be made. Other insecticides, fungicides and herbicides may also be applied. Aerial applications are often made by Maine Helicopters, Inc., of Whitefield (Andrew Berry, 549-3400). Announcements are made in local papers in Washington County, and fields are posted when Guthion is applied.
Local “phone trees” – the most reliable and expedient method – can be established to notify citizens of impending sprays by asking the landowner or blueberry field manager to contact one person on the tree. You can also call the Maine Blueberry Commission (1-800-544-1126) for daily updates of areas to be sprayed, weather permitting. This number is on line from about the third week of June and is only for restricted-use products, i.e., Guthion. For more information, call Dave Bell of the Commission at 581-1475.
Apples – Some larger orchards are aerially sprayed; others use ground mist blowers that may cause drift. From APRIL THROUGH SUMMER, orchards are the most regular users of pesticides – fungicides, insecticides and herbicides are often sprayed weekly.
General Farm Use – From APRIL THROUGH OCTOBER, pesticides are applied on most farms by ground rig (tractor), which provides good control over drift. Larger farms, especially POTATO FARMS, may use aerial sprays. Fungicides, insecticides and herbicides are all used, with potatoes being most heavily sprayed, followed by sweet corn and other vegetables. Aerial applications are often made by Lavoie Air Applicator of Fort Fairfield (Mike Lavoie, 764-6313-hanger).
Forestry – Aerial sprays usually are made only on large land holdings and paper company lands. Herbicides are used for “site preparation” and for “conifer release” on clearcut land; insecticides for pest outbreaks. Aerial applications are often made by Maine Helicopters, Inc., of Whitefield (Andrew Berry, 549-3400). Announcements are made in the media, and areas treated by air must be posted just before the applications.
Christmas Tree Farms – Some are regular users of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.
Roadside – The Maine Department of Transportation uses ground rigs and spot applications of herbicides on different roads every summer, every year. Check local papers to find out if and when your neighborhood is going to be sprayed. To sign a no-spray contract with the Maine Department of Transportation, call 287-5735, or call the DOT Division Office in your area. (Areas are Presque Isle, Ellsworth, Bangor, Rockland, Fairfield, Scarborough, and Dixfield.) The DOT sprays only state-maintained roads, not town roads.
Utility Rights-of-Way – From SPRING THROUGH FALL, contractors use backpack sprayers, spot applicators and an occasional ground rig. There is a five-year cycle for spraying herbicides on stumps and foliage. For information on no-spray contracts, contact Central Maine Power (1-800-972-8600); Bangor Hydroelectric (945-5621, ext. 2526 – Mike Moore); or Maine Public Service Co. in Presque Isle (1-800-287-6937 ext. 2254 – Glen Nadeau).
For more information about pesticides and their regulation, or to register a complaint, contact the Board of Pesticides Control, State House Station 28, Augusta, ME 04333; (207)287-2731. This phone is monitored 24 hours a day all year.