Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ag Spraying

Today the house was repeatedly buzzed at low altitude by a crop dusting biplane. He first sprayed a field to the southeast across the river, and then did a corn field about one quarter mile to the north. Mostly north-south passes (finishing a southward pass above) and then a couple of east-west passes, probably to get as close as possible to the electric power lines along the road. You can see the wires in front of the plane in the photo above and the poles along the south edge of the field below.

According to a farmer friend, this was probably an application of either a fungicide (such as Headline) to control diseases in the corn or an insecticide (such as Sevin) to control Japanese beetles or corn rootworm beetles. Farmers select from a range of corn varieties for various reasons and some are more susceptible to diseases than others. Also, this has been a pretty wet year, and corn may respond well to fungicide treatment. Not all fields are sprayed, and spraying may not continue much past this week.

One of our goals for Habitat Home (the place, not the blog) has been to extend and protect a little piece of wildlife habitat that joins a county forest preserve with the Salt Fork River corridor. These corridors form the basis for many of the Conservation Opportunity Areas (COAs) in Illinois (see, for example, Prairie Rivers Network article), which are identified in the federally-mandated Illinois Wildlife Action Plan. Aside from the occasional but inevitable drift from neighboring crop spraying activities like shown above, and our occasional spot application of Roundup for invasive species control, the property has had no other chemicals applied in the 20 years since row crops were last planted here. It's a good thing for the birds, the insects, the animals, the plants, and us.

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