Pesticide Drift

Practical Farmers’ members identify pesticide drift as a critical issue facing horticulture farmers. PFI’s work on pesticide drift intends to expand the visibility of and conversation surrounding pesticide drift in Iowa while serving as an information hub for farmers.

What is pesticide drift?

Pesticide spray drift is the movement of pesticide dust or droplets through the air at the time of application or soon after, to any site other than the area  intended. (EPA definition, 2017). Pesticide drift is illegal under Iowa Code §206.  


If you have experienced pesticide drift, report the incident as soon as possible by calling the Pesticide Bureau at IDALS (515‐281‐8591). We encourage you to submit a description of the incident in writing via email to:pesticides@iowaAgriculture.gov in addition to your phone call.


We believe sharing experiences with pesticide drift help raise awareness of the issue among farmers, applicators, and rural residents. If you are willing to share your experience or have questions about pesticide drift, we’d love to hear from you: Contact Us.

Protect Your Right to Farm: Pesticide Drift Response Guide for Iowa’s Farmers and Rural Residents

Pesticide Drift and the Law: Regulations, Case Files and Articles

Template Letters for notifying applicators and neighbors about sensitive crops and pesticide drift concerns

(This should be used in addition to a phone call to the Pesticide Bureau)

List of Private Labs for Pesticide Residue Testing
(In 2016 the state approved a process to expedite analysis of pesticide residue samples on food crops at the State Lab. If applicable, discuss this option with the Pesticide Bureau when you report a drift incident.)

Summary of Pesticide Drift Complaints 2008-2012
(The University of Iowa is working to create a searchable, public database of all pesticide misuse cases in Iowa.)


Farminar Recording: Pesticide Drift: Prevention and Response – Andy Dunham – 2015

Farminar Recording: Pesticide Drift: Response and Compensation – Rob Faux – 2014

Annual Conference Session

Video Series: Don’t Let Pesticides Drift

Pesticide Bureau at IDALS
The Pesticide Bureau enforces pesticide regulations in the state of Iowa.

Pesticide Bureau Pamphlet: Pesticide Investigation and Enforcement

Field Watch
(Field Watch replaced the Sensitive Crops Directory. All specialty crop growers are encouraged to identify their farms on Field Watch, which is regularly checked by pesticide applicators.)

 I-CASH: Iowa Center for Agricultural Safety and Health
(I-CASH provides information on first aid, health, and chemical information about pesticides.)

Pesticide Safety Education Program at Iowa State University
(The goal of the Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) is to provide educational information throughout Iowa on the safe and effective use of pesticides.)


These postcard images were created to help fruit and vegetable farmers raise awareness about pesticide drift with their customers. If you would like to include postcards in your CSA box or farmers market stand, PFI will send them to you free of charge. We will also make new images, as requested by the farmer.

The back of each postcard reads:

Thank you for supporting your local farmer by joining a CSA or buying local. Your food choices make a difference to Iowa’s farmers and farm landscapes!  One of the largest threats to fruit and vegetable farmers is pesticide drift from aerial sprayers and ground rigs. Pesticide drift is illegal, and a single incident can render crops unsalable for the season, and suspend organic certification for three years. You can support farmers every day by eating local. In addition, ask your farmer how you can help reduce pesticide drift in your area and across Iowa. 

If you are interested in being a consumer voice in the media about how drift impacts you and your farmer, contact Liz Kolbe, liz@practicalfarmers.org(515) 232-5661