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Things You Should Know When Living Next to…

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Vineyard © A. Napier

Learn some important points for living next to a variety of farms and other agricultural operations.


Like other farming operations, vineyards generate noise from field equipment. Typical equipment includes tractors and sprayers in the spring and bird control devices (cannons and bird distress calls) near harvest. A common pesticide used in vineyards is sulfur for control of powdery mildew. It may be applied numerous times during the spring and summer. Some people are allergic to sulfur, but even if you aren’t allergic, it has a distinct odor that you may find offensive. Phenoxy-type herbicides (such as Crossbow) used for poison oak, blackberry and thistle control are devastating to vineyards. Even small quantities can volatize during high temperatures and carry on the wind for miles. Oregon Department of Agriculture can fine for spray drift and require violators to pay for all damage and losses incurred by the vineyard.


Workers prune orchards between November and February. In early February orchard sprayers, which emit a high pitched whine, cover dormant trees with oil and sulfur to control insects and diseases. Expect to see signs warning about chemical use and entry restrictions while the orchard is being sprayed. March to June is bloom season and time to control frost, insects, and diseases. From dusk until dawn orchard sprayers and wind machines make noise and blow air. Harvest season depends on the type of orchard, but typically occurs sometime between July and early October. During harvest, forklifts in the orchard gather fruit bins and load trucks to haul the fruit. After the harvest, sprayers apply foliar nutrients to the leaves and apply oil and sulfur to control overwintering insects.

Seed Farms

Pollination, which may last from ten days to three weeks, is a bad time for people with allergies. Depending on the grass variety, it will be sprayed one to four times a year. You may want to be informed about the kinds of chemicals used. Harvesting activities may take place at almost any time of night or day: some farmers start at 4:00 am and others prefer to work until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. Various grass seed farming practices create noticeable quantities of dust. A grass seed field might be dusty for about five days over the growing season, and although most farmers try to be considerate of their neighbors, they may not be able to wait until the wind is favorable before they have to complete their work.

Christmas Tree Farms

Harvest time spans from late October to December 10th during daylight hours. Helicopters are generally used by large commercial growers. Depending on weather conditions, helicopters can be used to fertilize trees or to spray weeds or fungus in the spring. In good weather spraying might occur from February to August but the most likely window is March to June. Trucks of various sizes are used in the Christmas tree industry. Crew trucks are most likely to be present from mid-June through September for pruning and harvest preparation. Big semi-trucks are used during harvest and at planting to bring in seedlings. Choose and cut operations generally operate from mid-November to Christmas. Weekends are the busiest times, especially the first weekend in December. Some farms may offer school tours. Erosion on steep hillsides is a common occurrence on tree farms with bare soil. Consider talking to your neighbor about intercropping with grasses if you see muddy water in the ditches by a public road.

Logging Operations

If you buy property near public or private forest land, those trees may be cut at any time. Standing timber is a resource and to realize a return on the owner’s investment, the trees will be harvested at some point. When harvest occurs, your surroundings may shift suddenly. The most obvious change will be a loss of shade, especially if the harvest is a clear cut. On the positive side, harvest only occurs about once every forty years. The duration of the logging operation will depend on the volume of timber and size of the harvest unit, or number of acres being cut. Harvest operations begin before daylight and, depending on your proximity to the project area, you may hear trees falling, chainsaws, large equipment and log trucks. If the effort is a thin instead of a clear cut, you can expect the same types of noise and activity, but the post-harvest shift will be less abrupt. The second phase of a logging operation is the planting of seedlings. You can expect herbicide application to take place pre- and post-planting (late summer and early spring) to control competing vegetation. The site may be broadcast burned in May or June or piles of slash may be burned between October and December. In either case, some smoke is likely to persist for up to a week.

Organic Farms

Organic farms provide beautiful pastoral scenery, but maintaining these panoramas requires odiferous organic inputs such as manure and compost or other amendments, usually in the spring. Many organic farms have a produce stand, which means you will have easy access to fresh produce, but also means you can expect increased traffic to the stand during hours of operation. Organic farmers primarily use cultivation for weed control, so tractor noise and dust may occur.


Farms that raise animals produce quantities of manure that must be managed without disrupting the farm operation, the environment, or public health. On dairy farms, animals are confined for most of the winter and manure accumulates in the barn. In the summer, cows spend time in the pasture but come into the parlor two times a day to be milked and deposit manure on concrete pads while they are waiting in line. Some farmers clean their barns daily and spread the manure on their fields to fertilize the soil and recycle nutrients. In the winter, manure is stored in manure storage tanks or lagoons that are emptied a few times each year when the weather permits. Odors may be noticeable during these brief clean-out periods. Humidity, temperature, local topography, and wind direction have a major influence on how far odors travel and how strong they are at a specific location. At this time, there are no standards or rules regulating odors.