The Pesticide Decision Tool: A Field-Level Approach to Integrating Envionmental Factors in Pesticide Decision Making
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) is working to reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture and improve water quality through the voluntary adoption of on-farm assessment and decision tools. The objective of the Pesticide Decision Tool (PDT) project is to facilitate the integration of environmental risk assessment in the selection and management of pesticides in arable crop production. It is designed for use by agricultural professional such as co-op and elevator agronomists, independent crop consultants, and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Soil and Water Conservation District, and university Extension specialists, as well as by farmers. We take a broad-based approach that considers both environmental criteria and agronomic factors (such as application rate, crop tolerance, carry over ratings, and resistance risk ratings.) The environmental focus is ground and surface water protection, but other environmental and human health risks are considered. We currently have materials for field com and soybeans, with an emphasis on production in the Midwestern states. Herbicides are the major pesticide inputs in these crops. The Pesticide Decision Tool consists of a set of documents and associated software. Both the documents and the software can be downloaded over the Internet. The tool features two approaches: 1) a screening tool for assessing the likelihood of water contamination and 2) Reference Tables for easy comparison of the environmental and agronomic characteristics of the products available for a certain type of application (e.g., preemergence herbicides, soybeans).