The fight is heating up for the banning of the most dreaded and devastating form of pesticide application in banana plantations in Davao City--Aerial Spraying.
Aerial spraying is differentiated from ground application of pesticide, where pesticides are applied either directly on soil and or crop manually or using various ground equipment such as mororized or hand-operated sprayers, backpack sprayers, boom sprayers and air-blast sprayers.
It is used only in large farm areas and is preferred due to uniform and apparent efficient coverage in terms of area per unit of time, or in cases where ground spray cannot operate because of farm layout problem or slope.
IS IT SAFE?
Banana plantation companies maintain that the pesticides they use are legally procured and that government sanctions its safe use in agriculture. Fungicides being sprayed aerially are handled by certified pesticide applicators who have undergone corresponding training. Company manuals detail safety protocols and measures. Government industry regulating bodies abide by their mandates.
Even chemical pesticide manufacturers and distributors, while acknowledging potential hazards of their products, provide safety information and precautionary measures in application and handling as a guarantee to safe use.
However, various studies and anecdotal evidence culled from actual experiences on the field point to the contrary.
Pesticides sprayed do not stay put. Pesticides in the air can drift up to 3 km or more than the treatment site, contaminating the soil, open bodies of water, and other animal and himan environs in the process.
Studies in banana producing countries show that of the fungicides applied through the air, about 40 times during each cultivation cycle, 15 percent is lost to the wind drift and falls outside of the plantation. About 40 percent ends up on the soil rather than on the plants and about 25 percent is washed off by raid--totalling to a 90 percent loss.
In the United States, estimates for pesticides in general is even lower at one to two percent of sprayed chemicals actually reaching the target pests. Aerial drift is also estimated at five percent under optimal low wind condition to 60 percent under more typical winds.
Aside from the airborne drift associated with the physical movement of the droplets or pesticides sprayed, drift may also occur even days after spraying is done. Referred to as vapor drift, it is commonly associated with the volatilization of pesticides or the physical change of liquid pesticides into vapor gas.
More on this tomorrow.
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