Farmers go to school: Pesticide Education
Pesticides are an important tool in a farmer’s toolbox because if left alone, insects, weeds, mites or fungi could kill an entire field. However, we’re not just spraying pesticides without careful consideration and education. Every three years, farmers have to go to school and pass an exam to become certified to use pesticides on their crops.
A private pesticide applicator license is required for anyone using Restricted Use pesticides to produce an agricultural commodity on property they own or control – in other words, farmers looking to apply pesticides in their own fields. The “Restricted Use” classification restricts a product, or its uses, to be used by a certified applicator or someone under the certified applicator’s direct supervision.
Before the exam, farmers learn:
- The who, what, where, when and why of pesticides
- Safe handling and usage of pesticides
- Pesticide laws and regulation
- Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
IPM is the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and utilizing those techniques in the field. IPM emphasizes healthy crops grown with the least possible disruption to the ecosystem and encourages natural pest control mechanisms. In short, farmers consider and employ multiple pest control methods, not just pesticide use.
Over the years, we have accomplished using fewer pesticides, less frequently thanks to research and technology. Whether it’s seed genetics, crop rotation or automated farm equipment, farmers continue to improve their integrated pest management program in the interest of preserving the family farm and the environment.