Last year a crop duster applied some kind of chemical to the corn fields...

Asked March 30, 2018, 9:39 AM EDT

Last year a crop duster applied some kind of chemical to the corn fields surrounding my home on several different occasions. Our pond is our source of drinking water and is also used for showering, and I am concerned about the pesticide drift that covered our pond and yard. I do not want my family to be exposed to carcinogens. This pilot buzzed our home numerous times while applying the chemicals and it was very disturbing to say the least. What are my rights in this situation as a homeowner especially having a pond that we use for drinking water? How can I ensure that this does not happen again? Thank you.

Fulton County Ohio

1 Response

When pest (insect/disease) thresholds call for treatment to protect a crop, farmers may occasionally sub contract a crop duster to apply the appropriately labeled pesticide. In the county in which I work, we had a tremendous problem with Western Bean Cutworm in 2017 in tasseled corn as evidenced by our Extension trapping network. In some areas and after extensive scouting, treatment was necessary. That insect may not even be a problem in this current year. Hopefully not.

According to Ohio Revised Code (and other states' laws) the pesticide label is written as the law (ie the label is the law). As such, the pesticide is not to be applied to non-target crops (this could have been the case in your situation). Each pesticide label has environmental restrictions for how close the product is applied to surface waters and residences (sometimes this is referred to as the buffer) or if it impacts water at all. My hope is that the crop duster adhered to the appropriate buffers and followed the label. If you believe this is not that case (now and into the future), you may want to first contact the farmer who subcontracted the pilot. Sometimes this conversation clears up many of the questions (ie what was sprayed? what did the label say? were you following buffers? What was the wind speed? etc). If it does not and you believe a drift or off target incident has occurred, you will want to contact your state department of agriculture as they are the regulatory body for pesticide complaints. They will follow up on off target complaints to determine if any additional course of action is needed. This involves interviewing all parties involved, including asking for homeowner and pond treatment records. Sometimes additional action can be costly, thus the conversation helps clarify the situation.

I hope this response was helpful.