Chemical drift on my property (long...)

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by orangehen1, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. orangehen1

    orangehen1 orangehen1

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    I have 1&1/2 acres, moved here 4 years ago, and this year is the first time I’ve had what I thought was a decent garden. I’m surrounded on the south by a driveway and then corn, on the east by the road and then soybeans, and west and north are pasture.

    I realized when I bought the place that the guy who owns and farms it was a “chemical farmer”, as most of them are around here, but I assumed that most “farmers” were responsible and cautious with poisons, the pasture would protect me on the north & west, and I planted quick growing trees to the south as a buffer.

    Then I discovered that he sprays a “chemical cocktail” of 2,4,D and something else ON THE PASTURE – while his steers are in it and his kids are along. (Can’t have any thistles, you know.) I found that out the first year, and talked to him about it, but of course he just ignored me, even though leaves of trees and vines were wilting on the north side of my house.

    The second year, I stopped him when he went by and told him I’d PAY him to mow the pasture instead of spray, and he just laughed at me.

    This year I planted a fairly big garden on the south side of the property, as that is the ONLY place that gets full sun (I have a lot of big, old trees, which I love). I was really looking forward to canning tomatoes and beans, eating fresh broccoli and cabbage, etc.

    But about 3 weeks ago, I went out to check the elderberries along the south property line and discovered that the damn fool “farmer” had sprayed chemical poison ALL ALONG THE PROPERTY LINE. He sprayed high and low because the box elder trees along the property line had brown, dying leaves on his side, the elderberries were brown and dying, and I had one small tree dead, one dying, and a huge sunflower wilting and dying ON MY PROPERTY. My garden is only 20 feet from the property line. None of what he sprayed was threatening his corn, and there were NO thistles, burdock, etc. there.

    I was so horrified that I cried. I angrily wrote a letter to him, but had sense enough to read it to my daughter first, and she suggested easing up a little, so I did, but sent the letter promptly, and have had NO response. No apology, no explanation, nothing. I consider that extremely careless, irresponsible and un-neighborly, so this week I called the USDA and they sent me a complaint form to fill out. I did, and mailed it yesterday. I’m sure the USDA won’t do anything, but I just want him to spray responsibly, check the wind, and I asked him, in the letter, for 24 hours notice before he sprays so that I can cover my 5 hives of bees and my plants.

    I would never ask for “damages”, because trees can be replaced, but what angers and saddens me is I’ve “lost” a year of my life. I was so looking forward to eating healthily from my garden, but I’m afraid to touch the vegetables now. And I’m 66. Do any of us know how much longer we have? A whole year is wasted, and it makes me furious.

    Have any of you had to deal with this, and what did you do to resolve it?
     
  2. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    that is terrible. it is so disappointing to lose your "goodies" like that. i can see the need for a farmer to spray. i can see it in the corn field but i think he could compromise on the pasture. if not, he should at least try to be more careful. chances are he did spray high to be sure to kill everything, JMHO.

    it is hard for different folks with different lifestyles to get along sometimes. i think it takes cooperation and compromise on both parts. it seems you have tried to. if he can pull a sprayer, why can he not pull a bush hog in that area instead?

    i would suggest planting a fast growing windbreak in the areas prone to over-spray but chances are it would die. maybe he could plant one pass of that hardcore corn to act as windbreak. perhaps he just needs to slowdown a bit and be more careful.

    definately try to move your "goodies" to a spot where they will not get sprayed. take some pictures of the damaged plants as well and keep a journal.
     

  3. jeff caldwell

    jeff caldwell Well-Known Member

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    the farmers around here check the wind for drift before they spray. you can seek damages and would probaly get it. that would wake him and others up in your area it happen here.
     
  4. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    I agree with the above posters. Change is hard, but the only real way you are going to make a statement is to sue him for damages.

    Wouldn't be my first choice, but you've already told him how you feel and gotten no response.

    I guarantee he'll respond once he's served.

    I used to run into this constantly with bees, but the courts always made it right.
     
  5. Trixie

    Trixie Well-Known Member

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    bare, I have always wondered about bees and chemicals.

    How do they survive around all the poisons.
     
  6. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    2-4-D is some strong stuff~!!! I use it myself to keep Brush killed. Because that is what it is a Brush Killer. I still have a gal can of it, and it lasts For Years~! I have not sprayed for years now for poison ivy, and such. Non of the stuff ever has grown back. But again you are sort of in the middle and knew that. so I would keep the goodies WAY to one side of the pasture in questioned being sprayed. But wow 2-4-D is strong~~~~~ 1/2 Cup to One Gal. of water. It is ONE of the chemicals that was in Agent Orange...
    Agent Orange is a roughly 1:1 mixture of two phenoxy herbicides in ester form, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D)
    and other chemicals but I just copied this part for reference....
     
  7. bare

    bare Head Muderator

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    They don't.

    Really, that's the simple answer.

    I got cornered into sending my bees on "winter vacation", to California for pollination. Many beekeepers made the bulk of their annual money from pollination alone. I on the other hand depended on the byproducts.

    Really, the only way they can survive a job like that is that bees are shrort lived and the bees that went down there are not the same bees that returned.
     
  8. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

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    How about a fence...rock wall? JUst throwing out some thoughts.

    Tell him your contacting a lawyer.

    Its too bad people are so stupid. I don't have too much faith in humanity for the years ahead :( Its amazing more nuclear weapons have been detonated on others yet... i guess there is still time.
     
  9. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    As most of you know, I'm a farmer tho on the small end of the scale. Kinda heard some horror stories from the _other_ side of things too..... The little 5 acre plots in the middle of farm country can bring a lot of problems to farmers....

    The 24d would kill the soybeans too, so have to consider if it really was drift, or what....

    Anyhow, there are fedral & state regulations controling spraying, and if you can prove the spray drifted & went from whom, there will be a strong fine & issues against your neighbor.

    I do not condone spray drift or carelessness in any way on the farmer's part. We need to be careful & follow the rules.

    Here in MN we get a newsletter 3x a year, telling us who all was fined & how much for improperly spraying. Lot of turf caretakers, several ag sprayers for improper records mostly, and several farmers. It's kind of a re=enforcement for us all to watch out & be careful.

    Your state EPA-type of office would either be in charge or could direct you to the office that would be.

    If it were me, I too would laugh at a suggestion to mow the pasture - it don't get the same results & is an insult to him. Tho I would keep the cattle off it the required 7 days; and I would try real hard to watch the wind direction. Actually I would not bother with 24d, it seems to make Canadian thistles grow more in the long run; I would use dicomba (which drifts worse & I really need to watch the wind & air temp!) or one of the special thistle sprays that cost a lot but take out the problem much better & don't need to spray for a few years....

    Accidents happen, but it would seem from your description that he isn't doing what is required of him. Did you know that a totally windstill day it the worse for drift????

    Anyhow, if he is a problem to the extent you say, I would understand you turning him in to the proper office. It will get him in trouble. This EPA stuff is taken real serious - at least in my state.

    I hope you understand my straddling the fence a bit - I've seen both sides of this issue, & very stupid people on both sides..... ;)

    --->Paul
     
  10. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i did not mean to show my ignorance too much by suggesting mowing, but look at the bottom line. if better browse equals better profits, it needs to be weighed against potential fines and lawsuits.

    i straddle the fence too. i understand the need of farmers who farm on a large scale to use chemicals. i also understand the needs of folks who rely on their garden and the other food growing on their property. older folks most often live on a fixed income of some sort and need to take advantage of gardens and the like to make ends meet. my sister's mother-in-law is an older lady who always has a garden. she puts up everything she can. she would never make it if she didn't. as her energy level drops and the garden shrinks, she gratefully accepts whatever anyone gives her. it is a real boon to her pantry and her well-being. i have seen the smile on her face from a simple bag of left-over cucumbers or beans or even berries on the verge of turning bad. the point is that everyone deserves to be able to use their land to the fullest extent they can. the efforts of one person to make ends meet are no more important than the efforts of another.

    the farmer deserves to be able to use his land and make ends meet as well. this guy just needs to be a bit more careful and perhaps rethink some strategy.

    :) :) :)
     
  11. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    I know that locally, if you register your bees with the local beekeepers club that your location is noted and that farmers can't spray during bloom within a certain distance of your hive (as far as your bees go).
     
  12. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Since 2000 there has been an aphid that attacks soybeans. Until that new pest, I have used _very_ little bug spray ever in my farming.

    Also of the past 12 years or so, there have been a lot more aphids infesting alfalfa.

    So, a lot more insecticide (Warrior is one brand name) has been sprayed the past 5 years around here.

    Now, bees travel up to 5 miles, anyhow they go a mile or 2 or 3 on a normal basis right?

    The aphids tend to just explode & suck out the crop in a 3 day period of proper weather conditions.

    How does one balance the bees vs the crops???? That seems really difficult.

    My sis has a fellow with 14 hives or so on her small acreage. I had beans on the small acrage. This year the aphids hit again. Was a tough call as to what to do. I really like the bees. Way cool. I planted a 1/5 acre waste area to clover & alfalfa the just goes to seed - hope the bees like the flowers. Don't want to hurt them.

    The aphids cost $60-100 an acre if you don't spray them. That can add up pretty quick.

    How do bee keepers cope with insecticides these days? It's got to be rough.

    --->Paul
     
  13. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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    It's only during a 2 to 3 week period that those within a certain distance (fogive me, I don't know that distance) aren't able to spray. As far as I know, it's at most an inconvience to the farmers.

    Perhaps Mike in Ohio might know a little more about it.
     
  14. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    My thoughts are that you don't just need to contact the ag department and fill out a form, you should have the correct agency out to confirm chemical damage and to take tissue samples to confirm it via labratory analysis.

    I would also notify the private pesticide licensing agency for the state as well. I would ask what the records show the fellow was spraying, wind direction, temperature, and if the chemicals used were compatible to be sprayed as a solution mix.

    Sounds to me like the spraying may have taken place with the wrong kind of 2-4D on too hot of a day.
    ---
    I work for a county noxious weed department and we have noticed over the last week that the plants around our building took a real hit from some chemicals. However, not anything we have sprayed as we don't normally use anything other than glyphosate.
    I am not real sure that our comfrey plants will pull out of the damage, but everything else should. No doubt the trees have been hurt somewhat however.
     
  15. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Don't want to cause the thread to drift too much(snicker), but herbicides are generally pretty harmless to bees. Insecticides come with "bee protection" statements on the label(the label is the law). Basically, it's illegal for ANYONE to spray in a manner that will harm bees. But, good luck getting that enforced.
     
  16. orangehen1

    orangehen1 orangehen1

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    Thank you all so much for your input. Windy, can you please tell me what is the correct agency to have come out to confirm chemical damage? I'm not aware of who I need to contact. Also, how do I contact the "private pesticide licensing agency" for the state? These are all things I'm not familiar with.

    As I said, I was aware that he was going to spray his crops - that was a given. This spraying occurred where there were NO crops, right on the property line, well after the corn was mature. I've also seen him and his father driving down the road, spraying the ditches and fencelines and trees. I just don't understand the mentality of kill, kill, kill. How can the generations of birds and beneficial insects that are killed by this practice be measured and justified?
     
  17. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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    <<This spraying occurred where there were NO crops, right on the property line, well after the corn was mature. I've also seen him and his father driving down the road, spraying the ditches and fencelines and trees.>>

    Pretty standard stuff, really. My dad once sent me with a five gallon bucket of leftover herbicide and a plastic cup to kill a pretty good sized box elder growing on a streambank. "Make sure you get all the leaves, and try not to soak yourself too bad. Got to keep things "clean" otherwise it'll look like the neighbors place." Which was a nicely wooded grove along the stream, horrors!

    Heck, most sprayers come with "fenceline" nozzles to do just what you've described.

    Get a hold of your county extension office, they can point you in the right direction. Just realize that what you're up against is established farming practice on the vast majority of US corn/bean acreage.
     
  18. doohap

    doohap Another American Patriot

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    I, too, apologize for drifting on this thread, but you have expressed so well my own sentiments. I'm always amazed, when my husband and I are at our little place in the country, how many people there have that "mentality of kill, kill, kill." On some of our first visits to our property I was struck by so many comments of the neighbors about killing. Seems that any living thing that is not livestock, crop or pet to the one's self are game for extermination, be that hog, coyote, deer, spider, snake, weed, turtle, bird, bug or roaming dog. I truly do understand protecting one's person and property, but I cannot for the life of me undestand the need to kill just for the sake of killing.

    I've never been a doomsayer, but this old world is surely getting overcrowded with intolerant people. For the first time in my life, I'm feeling fearful of the earth's fate, though I refuse to give up the conviction that good will prevail. May God help us all.

    doohap :grouphug:
     
  19. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Well-Known Member

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    We have farmer that rents my FIL's land that is next to ours. He comes thru in spring and sprays his corn or soybeans and always kills some of our garden if we do not cover. What I find amusing is that all the stuff is killed then, but by this time the edges of his field are abloom with weeds, spreading all over the neighborhood. Over the winter the field will fill with weeds again until he sprays next year and then the whole cycle. We have tons of thistle because of this practice. I know there are noxious weed laws, but he does not follow them. Only cares about the weeds until his crops are started. It comes with the territory.
     
  20. BaronsMom

    BaronsMom Well-Known Member

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    Call your local county extension agent they can point you to the right regulatory folks. In Nebraska, we contact the Nebraska Dept of Agriculture. And yes, there can be fines levied and damages recouped.