Best Management Practices for Pesticide Applicators
Best Management Practices for All Pesticide Applicators
All pesticide applicators, regardless of type, should follow a basic set of best management practices. Your responsibility to properly use pesticides in compliance with the law doesn't stop here. Depending on what you do, you may be required to be certified by your state of residence and states within which you operate. Home pesticide applicators are required to adhere to the pesticide label just as professional applicators are required to do. Any use inconsistent with the label is a violation of federal and state law. A common error is applicators choosing pesticide products which are restricted to other classes of applicators. Home applicators should never use a pesticide labeled for use by a farmer or commercial applicator. Uncertified applicators should never use a restricted use pesticide without working under the direct supervision of a certified applicator. The label is the law!
Best Management Practices to be followed by all pesticide applicators:
- Correctly identify and regularly monitor pest populations BEFORE attempting chemical controls.
- Conserve naturally occurring biological control organisms (e.g., parasitic wasps,mites, flies, etc.) by using selective, NOT broad-spectrum, pesticides.
- Time pesticide applications to least impact beneficial arthropods (e.g., spray in early morning or at night to avoid foraging bees) and to help prevent secondary pest problems. Never apply insecticides to flowers in bloom.
- Use biological pesticides (e.g. Bt, Milky spore, or other biocontrol options) whenever possible.
- Follow IPM (integrated pest management) methods, which combine chemical, biological, mechanical, sanitation, cultural, and knowledge of the target pest or disease in an economic fashion in a balanced fashion.
PESTICIDE SAFETY AND EFFICACY
- When pesticides are to be used, choose a chemical based on efficacy, reasonable cost, and safety to applicators, native pollinators, natural enemies, and the environment.
- Purchase chemicals from a reputable dealer and utilize only those that are registered for treating your identified pest problem.
- Follow all pesticide labeling explicitly, including using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Applicators are required to wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes, and socks. Gloves prevent the majority of pesticide exposure through handling. EPA and Cooperative Extension strongly recommend the use of unlined chemical resistant gloves and other PPE. Nitrile and neoprene gloves are highly effective, low-cost, glove materials. But most chemical resistant glove materials resist most chemicals. Gloves should be elbow length to achieve proper protection.
- If applicable, clearly post re-entry interval (REI) information and confirm that workers and handlers understand how to determine if/when the treated area is safe to enter.
- Monitor weather conditions to allow proper drying time and to avoid drift due to windy conditions. Spray only when the wind, temperature, and humidity are suitable for applying chemicals unless the sprayer is modified to reduce drift (e.g., hooded boom, deflectors, low drift nozzles, shielded applicator). Ideal application conditions are wind speeds between 5-6 mph, high humidity, and moderate temperatures. Dead calm conditions are signs of a temperature inversion. Avoid application under these conditions.
- Use generous buffer zones when applying pesticides near water and other sensitive locations like bee yards, property lines, or areas with animals, humans, or sensitive plants/crops.
- Follow proper storage and disposal guidelines. Store pesticides where they will be protected from the elements. Never store pesticides in a home, food handling areas, or where humans live or congregate. Contact your local Extension Agent if you have waste pesticides and are unsure how to safely dispose of them.