Current Legal Rules Benefit Spray Applicators When It Comes to Pesticide Drift
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines pesticide drift as “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.” For example, Victoria applied weed killers to a field on an extremely windy day in preparation for planting corn in the spring. The weed killers drifted on to Charlie’s farm next door and damaged a portion of his pasture.
Homeowners, landowners, pesticide applicators, and farmers are concerned about pesticide drift. It may injure a homeowner’s garden or flowers or ruin a neighboring farmer’s crop. While no Maryland court has considered the issue of liability from pesticide drift, courts in other states have. These decisions provide some guidance on how a Maryland court might handle the issue. Depending on the facts of the drift case, pesticide applicators and farmers could owe damages for nuisance or trespass, or for uses inconsistent with the pesticide label.
Previous decisions show that it is not easy for neighboring landowners to win pesticide drift cases. Applicators should remember to utilize best practices when applying pesticides to limit drift issues.