Since 2001, the department has restricted the aerial application of burndown products that contain glyphosate, sulfosate or paraquat from mid-March to the end of April. Drift complaints have significantly decreased because restrictions have been in place for the last two years.

In 2001, the department received 16 complaints involving off-target drift of burndown herbicides. In 2002, the number of complaints fell to 10. In 2000, the year preceding implementation of the restrictions, the department received 98 drift complaints.

"The reduction in drift complaints is proof that the burndown restrictions are working," said Commissioner Lester Spell. "We need to keep the number of complaints to a minimum, and at the same time, have a policy in place that does not cause undue hardship to farmers."

The department, through the Bureau of Plant Industry, implements application restrictions by requiring supplemental labeling on burndown herbicides containing glyphosate, sulfosate or paraquat. The department's Bureau of Plant Industry has the responsibility for administration of pesticide application restrictions and supplemental labeling for pesticide products.

The supplemental labeling prohibits the aerial application of burndown herbicides from mid-March until April 30, unless an emergency condition exists, the producer requests a use permit and the department approves the request. A district inspector from the Bureau of Plant Industry assesses the situation in a particular field before the permit is approved.

The application restriction divides Mississippi into two separate zones with state Highway 8 being the dividing line. Zone I consists of portions of Bolivar, Sunflower, Leflore and Grenada counties, plus the entire counties of Carroll, Holmes, Humphreys, Washington, Sharkey, Issaquena, Yazoo and Warren.

Zone II consists of portions of Bolivar, Sunflower, Leflore and Grenada counties, plus the entire counties of Tallahatchie, Tate, Quitman, Coahoma, Tunica, Panola and Desoto.

Aerial applications are prohibited in Zone I from March 15 through April 30. In Zone II, aerial applications are prohibited from March 25 through April 30. Aerial applications in these zones can only be made with a permit from an authorized employee of the department. The state agriculture department can, at any time, take current planting and environmental conditions into account and modify the restrictions for zones or individual counties.

Keith Davis is a writer for the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce.