Sonoma County Department of Ag/Weights & Measures October Update

Written By: Tony Linegar, Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights & Measures
Published: October 1, 2019

Pesticide Use Near Public Schools and Licensed Day Care Centers

A new regulation went into effect January 1, 2018, that requires growers (agricultural production sites) within ¼ mile of a K-12 public school or licensed daycare center to notify the school administrator of anticipated pesticides that may be used during the next fiscal year (July 1st – June 30th). These notifications are due to school site administrators by April 30th each year. Of the 306 school sites notifications required for the 2019/2020 fiscal year in Sonoma County, 263 notifications have been completed, resulting in an 86% compliance rate. We will be following up with those who have not submitted their notifications.

To review your current school site submission status or to make amendments to notifications, please visit CalAgPermits. Information can be accessed from your homepage through a box
titled School Notifications. It is important to review your pesticide permit in CalAgPermits each year as new school sites may be established within ¼ mile of your agricultural production
site. If there are additional school sites, they will also require notification by April 30th, or within 30 days of taking over a new site.

The Department will be conducting additional surveillance of agricultural production sites within ¼ mile of school sites. Applications of pesticides using air blast spray equipment are
prohibited within ¼ mile of a school site from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. There are additional restrictions on other types of spray equipment as well. If you farm a site that is affected by this regulation, please stay outside of the ¼ mile buffer area while the time prohibitions are in effect. For more information on this regulation, please visit https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/enforce/school_notify/growers_applicators_factsheet.pdf or contact the Department at (707) 565-2371.

Save the Date for Annual Grower Workshop

Please mark December 5, 2019, on your calendar for our Annual Certified Private Applicator Workshop. Each year this workshop provides certified private applicators and state-certified
applicators continuing education hours, as well as providing an opportunity to give updates on other topics related to agriculture in the county. The workshop will be held at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, with registration beginning at 8:00 a.m. and the program starting at 9:00 a.m. Watch for additional information by mail, email and on our website at www.sonomacounty.ca.gov/awm.

New VESCO Best Management Practices Manual Draft for Public Review

The Land Stewardship Division has been hard at work putting together a revised draft of the Best Management Practices (BMP) for Agriculture Erosion and Sediment Control. This is the BMP manual used in the VESCO regulatory framework, which illustrates and explains erosion control practices that may be used to meet the standards outlined in chapter 36 of the Sonoma County Code.

While the BMPs listed in the manual have not greatly changed, the format and organization of the document have evolved to be clearer and more prescriptive. The BMP manual now provides guidelines for preparing professional biological reports, geological and soils reports, as well as guidelines on how to present engineering aspects of VESCO
projects. It also describes when these additional documents are required with VESCO project submittals.

The BMP manual was revised in an effort to make the VESCO program easier to understand and to help project developers submit VESCO project application packages that will better meet the standards established in Chapter 36 of the Sonoma County Code. Division staff feels this will lead to more complete VESCO project application packages, which will lead to shorter review periods and quicker permit issuance. The draft public review version of the BMP manual can be viewed and downloaded online at www.sonomacounty.ca.gov/awm.

Vineyard and Orchard Development Season Wrap-Up

2019 has been another busy year for vineyard and orchard development projects in Sonoma County. The Department has received over 130 VESCO permit applications as of early September. There is going to be a lot of vineyard and orchard construction work happening out in the fields this year.

With fall upon us, we are quickly approaching the end of construction season for vineyard and orchard development projects in Sonoma County. Soil disturbance for these projects must be wrapped up soon and winterization BMPs must be applied. Winterization of sites must be completed by October 15th for new development projects or November 15th for replant
projects. This is also a reminder there must be an established cover crop over all disturbed areas or seed and mulch must be applied over all disturbed areas.

Once winterization work is completed on Level 2 projects, the site needs to be inspected by Department staff to verify each project’s engineering plans have been followed and standards of VESCO and BMPs have been met. Please call the Department at (707) 565-2371 as soon as your site is winterized to schedule an inspection.

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