Evergreens help block pesticide from crop fields

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Farmers should plant a line of evergreen trees around their crops to reduce the movement of pesticide sprays outside their fields, according to an Ohio State University study.

The finding comes at a time when regulatory agencies around the world are calling for farmers to utilize so-called "buffer zones" of unplanted ground or non-crop vegetation around crops to catch droplets of pesticide spray carried by the wind.

These rows of non-crop vegetation, or windbreaks, absorb pesticides that would otherwise contaminate adjacent plants, residential areas and water supplies, explained Franklin R. Hall, professor of entomology at Ohio State and lead author of the study. Urbanization has led to more houses being built close to farming operations, which makes the need for windbreaks even more important, he added.

At a recent meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, Hall and his colleagues reported their results. At windtunnel speeds ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 meters per second -- equivalent to a light breeze -- evergreen plants collected two to four times more spray droplets than broadleaf plants.

Hall said that as farmers spray pesticide onto crops, wind captures a portion of the mist, which contains a wide range of droplet sizes. "The smallest droplets can be carried off

Contact: Franklin R. Hall
Ohio State University

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