The Board of Directors of FieldWatch Inc., a non-profit corporation that operates the multi-state online crop registry for high-value specialty crops called DriftWatch, has unanimously approved the addition of four new members to the company's board of directors.
The new board members and their stakeholder groups include: Producer Group-Dennis Dixon, Hartung Brothers, Madison, Wis.; Applicator Group-Mark Trostle, Crop Production Services, Loveland, Colo.; Manufacturer Group-David Flakne, Syngenta, Greensboro, N.C.; and Industry At-Large-Lori Bowman, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture.
"Our board and I feel very privileged to have four new directors of this caliber," said Reid Sprenkel, President/CEO of FieldWatch who made the announcement. "The depth and breadth of their varied agribusiness experience will bring additional expertise to an already excellent board," he added. "Expanding the board has been under discussion for some time, but FieldWatch's growing interest and rapid user growth suggested we move forward now rather than later."
Since FieldWatch's inception, it has been the company's goal to strike a balance between the interests of various stakeholder groups. To that end, nine original directors were appointed from the following four groups: Producer Group-Steve Smith, Red Gold and Levi Huffman, Huffman Farms; Applicator Group-Scott Schertz, Schertz Aerial Service, and Bob Wolf, application technology expert; Manufacturing Group-Andrew Burchett, Monsanto, and Elisha ModisettKemp, Dow AgroSciences; and Industry At-Large Group-Jean Payne, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, and Tami Griffin, Aon Risk Solutions. In addition, Purdue University's Dean of Agriculture, Jay Akridge, serves as an ex-officio voting board member.
The registry's growth over the last 18 months has been striking among both applicators and producers. During that time, the total number of registered applicators has increased from 175 to 458 (262 percent), producers from 500 to 2,017 (403 percent), fields from 727 to 2,866 (394 percent), total acreage from 35,238 to 256,313 (727 percent), and apiaries (beehives) from 1,380 to 1,840 (133 percent).
"The industry's growing acceptance of FieldWatch has been gratifying", said Leighanne Hahn, FieldWatch Operations Director. "We have found that both those who grow high-value specialty crops, and those performing chemical spray applications are avoiding contentious drift situations. But, the numbers only tell part of the story-it's gratifying to hear the comments from people in the field for whom the DriftWatch specialty crop site registry is making a real difference in their businesses," she said.
The registry was originally started in Indiana by Purdue University's Department of Agriculture and Biological Engineering as a voluntary online registry program in 2008 under the name of DriftWatch. The concept immediately proved effective in allowing both farmers and applicators to identify, map and communicate the location of high-value specialty crops as a part of their ongoing stewardship activities. The registry's success in reducing the number and severity of drift-related incidents led to subsequent adoption by nine other states, primarily in the Midwest.
The DriftWatch on-line registry was transitioned from Purdue's oversight to that of the independent, non-profit FieldWatch in December of 2012, including the transition of the website and database to a secure private IT service provider. The service provider also developed a national software platform from which to grow the utilization of the DriftWatch tool and enable availability of the service nationwide.