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Published February 23, 2009, 05:55 AM

A look at chemigation in North Dakota

Chemigation is the practice of applying a chemical such as fertilizer or pesticides on crop land by injecting the chemical into irrigation water.

A look at chemigation in North Dakota.

_ WHAT IS IT? Chemigation is the practice of applying a chemical such as fertilizer or pesticides on crop land by injecting the chemical into irrigation water.

_ HOW WIDESPREAD IS IT? That is not known, since North Dakota does not require farmers to get a permit for chemigation. It is used more on potato and corn crops.

_ MUST FARMERS FOLLOW ANY RULES? Farmers must follow system design rules and install a device that prevents the chemical from flowing backward into the water source supplying the irrigation system. The state Water Commission also can stop a farmer from using chemigation in areas with groundwater that is particularly sensitive to contamination.

_ WHAT IS THE MAIN FEAR? North Dakota does not require containment systems around chemigation tanks. Containment systems, which are required in many other states, are designed to capture any chemical that leaks from a tank and prevent it from contaminating groundwater.

_ WHAT ARE OFFICIALS CONSIDERING? The state Senate has narrowly defeated a bill that would have set up a permitting process for chemigation and required the agriculture commissioner to study new rules and report back to the Legislature. The department now plans to hold public meetings this summer and decide how to proceed.

_ DOES THE LEGISLATURE NEED TO APPROVE ANY NEW RULES? No. The Agriculture Department has the authority to impose new regulations without the consent of state lawmakers.

Sources: ND Agriculture Department, North Dakota State University Extension Service.

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