Complaints of pesticide drift decreased again in 2003, and Mississippi Bureau of Plant Industry officials plan to reduce that number again in 2004. Once again, Mississippi officials are imposing a ban against the aerial application of some commonly used preplant burndown herbicides.

Similar to bans imposed each year since 2001, the regulation mandates when certain herbicide applications can and cannot be made by air, according to geographical location. The 2004 restrictions set a March 15 ban initiation date for the Delta region south of Highway 8 and set a March 25 ban initiation date for the area north of Highway 8. Applications in both regions are restricted until April 30.

In 2003, the Mississippi Bureau of Plant Industry received 46 complaints of off-target pesticide movement. Of these, 23 complaints allegedly resulted from aerial applications, seven incidents were attributed to ground applications, and six were from unknown sources. The complaints were primarily related to applications of glyphosate herbicide products.

That compares to 146 agricultural related drift complaints and 62 non-agricultural related complaints in 2000. The number of complaints, which had risen steadily since 1995, has decreased in recent years. The drop is attributed to weather conditions and restrictions on aerial applications.

Affected by the March 15 initiation date are those areas south of Highway 8 in the counties of Bolivar, Sunflower, Leflore, and Grenada, plus the entire counties of Carroll, Holmes, Humphreys, Washington, Sharkey, Issaquena, Yazoo and Warren.

Aerial burndown applications north of Highway 8 in the counties of Bolivar, Sunflower, Leflore and Grenada, plus the entire counties of Tallahatchie, Tate, Quitman, Coahoma, Tunica, Panola and DeSoto are restricted beginning March 25.

During these dates, aerial applications in these zones of the specified herbicides can only be made with an emergency exemption permit from an authorized employee of the Bureau of Plant Industry. The permits provide applicators, producers and the general public considerable application flexibility while maintaining the regulatory objective of protecting susceptible foliage.

According to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry, 71 burndown herbicides, mostly containing the active ingredient glyphosate, sulfosate and/or paraquat, are included in the aerial restriction, and may not be applied by air without a permit during the mandated period of time.

To apply for an emergency exemption permit to apply one of the restricted pesticides during the ban, aerial applicators should contact the Bureau of Plant Industry, and provide them with the farmers name, the field name, what product you will be putting out, and when you plan to make the application. For a permit in Coahoma, Quitman, Panola, Tate, Tunica and DeSoto counties, aerial applicators should contact Mike Foresman at 662- 902-7958, Permits in Bolivar, Sunflower, and Washington counties can be requested from Keith Ferguson at 662-820-3411. For permits in Issaquena, Sharkey, Humphreys, Yazoo and Warren counties, call Michael Ledlow at 662-571-7899. Jim Flautt is the contact person for the counties of Yalobusha, Tallahatchie, Grenada, Leflore, Carroll and Holmes. He can be reached at 662-299-1626.

For more information, contact the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Bureau of Plant Industry at 888-257-1285.