Methods to Control Pesticide Loss

The most effective approach to reducing pesticide pollution of waters is, first, to release fewer pesticides and/or less toxic pesticides into the environment and, second, to use practices that minimize the movement of pesticides to surface water and ground water (EPA 1993).

The pesticide management measures identify a series of steps or thought processes that producers should use in managing pesticides. A careful field-specific review of pest problems, previous pest control measures, and cropping history must be conducted. Each area targeted for application should review soil and hydrologic conditions to estimate the potential for off-site migration to groundwater or surface water. Integrated pest management (IPM) strategies should be used to minimize the amount of pesticides applied. Pesticides should be applied efficiently and at times when precipitation or high winds are unlikely. Storage, mixing and disposal of pesticides and containers must consider the potential for losses to groundwater and surface waters. Equipment should be tested and calibrated prior to use.

EPA has compiled a list of BMPs for pesticides, illustrating the types of practices that can be applied successfully to minimize this important aspect of agricultural nonpoint source pollution (EPA 1993). The EPA list is summarized below.

(1) Inventory current and historical pest problems, cropping patterns, and use of pesticides for each field.

This can be accomplished by using a farm and field map, and by compiling the following information for each field:

(2) Consider the soil and physical characteristics of the site including mixing, loading and storage areas for potential for the leaching and/or runoff of pesticides.

In situations where the potential for loss is high, emphasis should be given to practices and/or management practices that will minimize these potential losses. The physical characteristics to be considered should include limitations based on environmental hazards or concerns such as:

(3) Use IPM strategies to minimize the amount of pesticides applied.

Following is a list of IPM strategies:

(4) When pesticide applications are necessary and a choice of materials exists, consider the persistence, toxicity, and runoff and leaching potential of products along with other factors, including current label requirements, in making a selection.

Users must apply pesticides in accordance with the instructions on the label of each pesticide product and must be trained and certified in the proper use of the pesticide. Labels include a number of requirements including allowable use rates; classification of pesticides as "restricted use" for application only by certified applicators; safe handling, storage, and disposal requirements; and any restrictions needed to protect ground water; and other requirements.

(5) Maintain records of application of restricted use pesticides (product name, amount, approximate date of application, and location of application of each such pesticide used) for a 2-year period after such use, pursuant to the requirements of the 1996 Farm Bill.

(6) Use lower pesticide application rates than those called for by the label when the pest problem can be adequately controlled using such lower rates.

(7) Consider the use of organic farming techniques that do not rely on the use of synthetically compounded pesticides.

(8) Recalibrate spray equipment each spray season and use anti-backflow devices on hoses used for filling tank mixtures.

Purchase new, more precise application equipment and other related farm equipment (including improved nozzles, computer sensing to control flow rates, radar speed determination, electrostatic applicators, and precision equipment for banding and cultivating), as replacement equipment is needed.

(9) Integrated crop management system: A total crop management system that promotes the efficient use of pesticide and nutrients in an environmentally sound and economically efficient manner.

Additional information on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) (exit this site)

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CLW IO 2004