AEM led U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials on a tour of last week's Farm Progress Show in Illinois to showcase the latest spray drift reduction technology developed by ag equipment manufacturers.

AEM Director of Government Affairs Nick Tindall hosted officials from the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs to discuss the agency's new Drift Reduction Technology (DRT) Registry, a voluntary program allowing sprayer manufacturers to submit their drift reduction products for a star rating from the government. The star ratings assess how effective spraying systems are at achieving drift reduction.

The tour offered AEM and its members an opportunity to showcase how manufacturers are already motivated by market incentives to reduce drift, and the steps manufacturers are already taking to achieve reduction.

The EPA ratings could become increasingly influential in how the agency evaluates sprayers and pesticides. In particular, it's essential that AEM members understand how EPA will be taking product ratings into consideration when conducting risk assessments on pesticides.

Producers who use higher rated equipment will have fewer use restrictions to contend with, such as reduced buffer strips. This advantage to farmers and ranchers could make the star ratings a key marketing point in the near future.

“AEM members should also take care to understand how exactly EPA will collect and test data, especially since the agency will reject data it says is improperly gathered,” Tindall said. “The field tests that the EPA may require may also be expensive.”

While at Farm Progress, EPA officials also addressed AEM's Sprayer Product Leadership Group on the new program. AEM will be looking to continue to work with the agency on refining the DRT Program by bringing together EPA and its own Liquid Applications Equipment Technical Group to conduct research on drift models that represent real world applications of drift reduction technology.