Dow, Monsanto Respond to Herbicide Drift Damage

Mark Ganchiff

Mark Ganchiff is the publisher of Midwest Wine Press, the leading source of news on the growing wine industry in the central United States. Mark has been a wine judge at the 2012 and 2014 INDY International Wine Competition, the 2014 Cold Climate Wine Competition, the 2013 Mid-American Wine Competition, the 2012 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition and the 2013 Michigan Wine Competition. He also enjoys speaking at wine events including the Cold Climate Wine Conference, the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association Annual Meeting, the Midwest Grape and Wine Conference and the Wisconsin Fruit and Vegetable Conference. Mark's articles about regional wine have appeared in Vineyard & Winery Management, WineMaker and several regional magazines. Mark is a Level One Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers. He lives in Louisville, but also has a residence in Chicago.

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5 Responses

  1. Sam says:

    Without any doubt in my mind, these new formulations will do little to stop the problem of herbicide drift to sensitive crops, especially in the more topographically complex parts of the Midwest such as the ozark border areas where air current dynamics are often unpredictable. I, for one, will no longer tolerate the damaging chemical trespassing which has become so commonplace in the Midwest. I’ve seen the effects of it (and breathed it) in my vineyard time and time again. There has to be accountability for this. Grape growers need to stand up for our right to practice the type of agriculture we want to on our land and not be subject to chemical trespass which threatens the economic and quality potential of our products and livelihood!

    • Mark Ganchiff says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sam. Our best hope is to get laws that can support liability in court.

  2. Mark: It appears that volitization is not a problem with the new products. I doubt that. Furthermore some states do not check wether an applicator complied with the label. In each of my 5 incidents that were investigated by the state the applicators violated one or more of the warnings. In one case all six of the precautions.

    The state states that if more than one applicators apply the products in a season they can not determine where the source is therefore it is tough luck for the farmer damaged. In addition this policy would allow a criminal intentional damage conspeircyto be impossible to Prevent or prove.

    Last year the state inspector noter violations of most of the labels will investigating my complaint. The label states that you should not use this product when the temperture is high and the humitity is low. He noted in his report that the temperture wa 91) F at the appication site..

    You will only stop the damage when all complaints are investigted on the basis of breaking the federal law. The law states that damage does not eto occur for the federal law to be violated. Only Significant drift has to occur. The law also defines significant drift.
    In this instance the investigator smelled a strong chemical odor being emitted from the treated plants. This would be volization occuring if that is the case. Sampling of the treated plant would also tell one if the rate per acre was violated by the applicator. Spot application of a plant can result in the application of much more that the plant can absorb with the result of the rest votiliaing and leving the site even with no wind at the surface. Where ever this cloud is when the night temp decreases and the dew comes down is what plants will receive the damage. This was the case in my vineyard last year. Over 70% of the vineyard was damaged.

    Laws must be strenghtened so that when a complainth is filed all identifind sprayed within a time peiod are surveyed for compliance with the label. Until then damage will continue to occur and the possibility of criminal intential actions can occur without possibiity of prosecution.

    • Mark Ganchiff says:


      It hurts every time I hear about a vineyard that was damaged or destroyed by drift. As mentioned in the article, one of the measures being considered is documentation by applicators of all existing conditions when herbicides were used. The tort system might be the way herbicide regs are enforced going forward. However, one has to hope that education and public relations can go a long way towards improving the situation.

  3. Eric Pool says:

    We should not be using volatile chemicals for weed control. I don’t care if they are less volatile than before. If a chemical is going to evaporate and become part of the air we breathe, it should not be approved. You can educate a farmer all you want, but if he’s been spraying his whole life, do you think he is going to go visit a Monsanto class and change? More education is not the answer. I’ve encountered attitudes that I’m costing my neighbors money, because the cheapest, most effective weed killers are the most volatile(2-4 D ester). Why should they spend more money? They think I’m the bad guy for not farming like them and not wanting their chemicals on my property. We should be farming to create healthy food, instead our midwestern way of farming has morph into an system that enriches players like Cargill, ADM, Dow, and Monsanto. We are judging profits to be more valuable than health. I’d love to grow more healthy fruits and vegetables, but I repeatedly have my farm invaded and my plants attacked. I have filed numerous complaints over the last decade, but every time I get the same letter from the State saying “no evidence” could be found.