Farm Horizons, February 2018

U of M Extension offers pesticide safety programs in class or online

By Nan Royce

Responsible management of pests and pesticides is essential from the perspective of public health, as well as healthy, functioning ecosystems according to the University of Minnesota’s Extension website.

For many industries, pest management is important: crop and livestock production, forestry, turf, horticultural plants, fisheries, food processing, waste management, transportation of commodities, and tourism.

In locations such as parks, golf courses, schools, stores, homes, lakes and rivers, and business offices, pesticide management is important for economic and aesthetic reasons.

U of M Extension offers certification courses for professional pesticide applicators. The goals of the certification courses are: to enhance public health and environmental quality; improve the health and safety of pesticide application workers and their families; encourage and facilitate producers, industry, government, natural resource managers, and the public to adopt economically-and environmentally-sound pest and pesticide management practices; and to facilitate public discussion of pesticide related issues.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is the authority regulating pesticide use in Minnesota, according to the MDA’s website. The MDA certifies applicators as competent and qualified to obtain a license by initial testing; applicators whom the MDA deem as qualified may obtain a pesticide applicator license. The MDA issues different license types with specific categories depending on the intended application site.

The MDE offers several pesticide applicator license types, including commercial pesticide applicator, non-commercial pesticide applicator, structural pest control applicator; structural pest control company; and private pesticide applicator certification.

According to McLeod and Meeker County Extension Educator Karen Johnson, the MDA has more than 17,000 certified Private Pesticide Applicators.

“These applicators generally are farmers or other persons producing an agricultural commodity,” Johnson stated. “Applicators are typically using restricted-use pesticides (RUPs) to control insects, diseases, weeds, or other pests in their production operation.

U of M Extension offers a variety of classes that can lead to re-certification. Class topics include pesticide laws and regulations, personal protective equipment, applicator health effects, application equipment and tank cleanout; and current crop and pest issues and integrated pest management.

A person who is not currently certified (i.e. becoming certified for the first time or their certification expired in 2017 or earlier) is required to first take a test to become certified. This initial test is available online, or a paper copy may be picked up from the local extension office. All tests must be completed by Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018.

People must re-certify to keep their skills current. “Attending a recertification workshop renews the individual’s certification for three years,” Johnson stated. “For those who are unable to attend a workshop, or would rather retest for recertification, two other options exist. You may either complete the test as a home study course, or you may complete the test online.”

The cost to recertify, either by attending a recertification workshop or retesting, is $75. Meeker County is offering a recertification class Tuesday, Feb. 13 at the Meeker County Courthouse in Litchfield. McLeod County’s workshop has already taken place for this year. Workshops are scheduled every January and February.

For more information, call the University of Minnesota Extension Farm Information Line at 1 (800) 232-9077, or email

Safe handling of treated seeds

According to Lizbeth Stahl, University of Minnesota Extension Educator, a significant amount of seed planted this year will have been treated with a pesticide.

Care should be taken when handling treated seed, just as when working with any pesticide, to help prevent pesticide exposure to the handler, non-target organisms, and our water resources.

Tips for working with treated seeds

• Always check the seed bag label for specific details on the product(s) you are using.

• Do not use treated seed for feed, food, or oil purposes. There is zero tolerance for treated seed in the export market, and a single seed can result in the rejection of an entire load. Many seed treatments are toxic to birds, mammals, and/or wildlife.

• Do not leave any treated seed that has spilled or that remains on row ends on the soil surface, but instead collect the seed or cover it with soil.

• For products that are toxic to bees or pollinators, care should be taken to minimize dust drifting to, and contaminating blooming plants. Refer to seed bag labels for further details.

• Treated seed should be stored away from feeds and foodstuffs. Do not allow access to treated seed by children, pets, or livestock.

• A minimum planting depth may be specified on the seed bag label. If you experience crop failure or need to replant, check the seed bag label for any plant-back or replant restrictions. Grazing or feeding restrictions may also be listed, depending on the active ingredient(s) and product concentration.

• Restrictions may be listed on the seed bag label regarding use of soil or foliar products on crops grown from treated seed. Protect yourself while working with treated seed. Avoid breathing in dust or fumes from treated seed and avoid contact with eyes and skin. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling treated seed.

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