NAAA played a key role last December in North Carolina State University’s Center of Excellence for Regulatory Science in Agriculture (CERSA) workshop titled “Advances in Regulatory Risk Assessment of Pesticide Drift from Unmanned Application Systems (UAS) and Manned Aerial Application.” NAAA participated actively and was also on the development committee. Also participating were over 100 pesticide companies, academics, UAS and ag industry representatives, and state and international regulatory agencies, including the EPA and the Federal Aviation Administration. CERSA released the final report from the workshop earlier this week.
Many entities at the CERSA Workshop and codified in the final report agreed that UAS applications do not fit into any existing drift model. In fact, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), Canada’s counterpart to the EPA, stated that for a pesticide to be specifically registered to be applied by a UAS, drift modeling showing its safety would first have to be developed. As such, UAS applications in Canada are not allowed presently. NAAA has urged the EPA for years to develop UAS spray modeling indicating how the product moves in the atmosphere and to label its use according to the results, just like it does for manned applications.
Another conclusion from the CERSA conference, including from regulatory agencies, was that drift modeling—specifically AgDRIFT—could be modified to account for more realistic setups commonplace in today’s manned aerial application industry. NAAA has been actively working with the EPA to modernize its analysis of manned aerial drift models to take into account more realistic and robust drift reduction techniques. NAAA is also participating in the EPA’s Pesticide Policy Dialogue Committee Emerging Technologies Working Group, identifying similar policies needed for aerially applying drones. The final report may also be found here.