Planting with Bees in Mind

Mar 04, 2014

Ontario Farmer Advocates the Use of Anti-Drift Dust Kits to Mitigate Bee Deaths

By Amanda Brodhagen,

As farmers gear up for spring planting, one Ontario grower says he is ready to do his part to be “bee-friendly” when planting this season.

Ontario grower, Marty Derks got his hands on an “Anti-Drift Dust Kit”, which aims to reduce drift during planting by 90 per cent.

Derks is convinced that these kits can serve as a practical tool for growers to reduce the risk of bees being exposed to neonicotinoids during the planting process.

Neonicotinoid pesticides, which are a relatively new class of insecticides are commonly used to treat seeds, have been blamed for bee deaths. Europe has put a temporary two-year ban on neonicotinoids. The topic has been an important conversation piece among the agriculture community.

Derks, who can be described as a young progressive farmer, runs 2,400 acres, growing predominately corn and soybeans on his family’s farm near Chesterville, Ont.

He got the kit as a freebie after having bought a planter from Monosem last year - one of the biggest planters (24 twin-row) that the company has ever sold in Canada.

The Kansas-based company, Monosem, says the kits are available as an option for 2014 planting. While the Anti-Drift technology has been used in Europe since 2010, only now has it been introduced into the North American market.

How do Anti-Drift Kits work?

The kit is comprised of a series of hoses and a decompression chamber, which deflects air from the planter down to the ground stopping the dust from going into the air, reducing the amount of neonicotinoids being dispersed.

“There’s not much to them really,” explains Derks. “About 20-feet of hose and some U-bolts,” he said.

Depending on the size of the planter, the company said the device could cost anywhere between $200 to 500, a small price to pay for something that may help maintain a healthy bee population.

It can be made to fit different sizes of planters, anywhere from a two row model to a larger sized one, like Derks’s 24 twin-row planter. 

Derks installed the kit himself, and says it took him only 2-hours.

Farmers have been under pressure to deal with the ongoing bee issue which has dominated main stream news outlets. Derks says that the Anti-Drift kits offer a temporary fix to manage bee health at the farm level.

He doesn’t want to see a ban of neonicotinoids, citing that the insecticides add about 2.3 bushes on an acre of soybeans. “That’s the incentive to find a solution for farmers,” said Derks.

 “I would recommend it,” he said.

Derks graduate from Kemptville College and the Advanced Agricultural Leadership Program (AALP), class of 2014.

You can follow Derks on Twitter at @MrFarmerD.

(Contributed photos by Marty Derks | Monosem Anti-Drift Dust Kit)

(Contributed photo by Monosem)

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