- Know your fields. Be aware of sensitive areas, such as sinkholes (Figure 1), streams, ponds, and slopes where runoff can occur. Use buffer strips as appropriate.Read and follow label directions (Figure 2) before using any pesticide. Pay particular attention to sections on Practical Treatment, Precautionary Statements, Directions for Use, and Storage and Disposal in addition to instructions for the crop you are treating.
- Follow the Worker Protection Standards (WPS) listed on the label. Have your central posting area up to date. Be sure personal protective equipment is clean and undamaged. Have decontamination station equipment ready.
- Check your application equipment for wear and calibrate it carefully, especially if you apply WP, DF, WDG, DF, or F formulations. They are abrasive and cause brass nozzles to wear (Figure 3). Both the nozzle flow rate and droplet distribution are affected. Inspect pumps and pressure gauges.
- Use safe mixing and loading areas that are at least 50 feet from wells, streams, etc. It is best to have a liquid-tight mixing and loading pad.
- Back-siphoning can occur when the end of the filler hose falls below the level of the tank contents and there is a drop in pressure. Leave an air gap between the end of the hose and the spray mix level or use an approved anti-back-siphoning device (Figure 4).
- Store pesticides in their original containers with intact labels. Read the storage instructions on the product label. The storage area should be dry and ventilated, away from animal feeds, and secure. Pesticides must be stored at least 50 feet from any well unless they are in secondary containment.
- Keep accurate pesticide application records for both Restricted Use and General Use products.
- Be prepared for emergencies. Have the proper protective equipment available along with a shovel and absorbent material to confine small to medium liquid spills (Figure 5). Call 911 to report a significant spill. Give the exact location, product involved, and the approximate amount released.
- Dispose of empty pesticide containers properly. Triple rinse liquid containers and use the local container-recycling program to get rid of them.
- Don’t spray when it is windy or if a significant rain is expected within hours of application. Drift can be a major problem when wind speed exceeds 10 mph. Use low pressure, low boom placement, and large droplet size.
- Use the proper protective equipment and good personal hygiene. Follow label requirements for protective clothing. Wash hands following any work with pesticides. Shower at the end of the day and launder work clothing separately from the rest of the family wash.
Note: this article was adapted from Pesticide Best Management Practices (BMP’s) from Maryland Department of Agriculture (Information Sheet 16)
Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist