When insect issues threaten your crops, it can be a race against time to resolve the problem with pesticides. However, working with pesticides and other chemicals is dangerous and can cause serious health issues in humans if not handled properly. The E4 Team has assembled ten tips for safe pesticide application.
1. Get Certified
In the US, most states require individuals to have certification and training for the application of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. Before considering delving into pesticides, it is best practice to understand what your state requirements are. These chemicals can cause health issues if not taken seriously and handled without care. It is critical that any worker involved in the process, from prep work to chemical application, is properly certified and trained.
2. Train For The Implements You’ll Be Using
Become familiar with the equipment you’ll be working with in the field. Understanding how to safely operate the implements being used for application will help minimize the risks of pesticide exposure.
3. Be Prepared For Emergencies
Having an emergency plan at the ready is vital for proper workplace safety. That plan should include first aid. It’s a good practice to keep a five-gallon container of fresh water on the tractor/implement in the event of chemical exposure. Clean water can help flush out the chemicals from the exposed parts of the body. Replace the water daily to keep the supply fresh.
4. Utilize Personal Protective Equipment
There are four ways that pesticides can enter the body: through the skin, eyes, mouth, and lungs. Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) helps reduce the risk of exposure significantly. Utilize PPE such as chemical-resistant goggles, long rubber gloves, rubber boots, long pants, a heavy-duty long-sleeve shirt, and a respirator. Depending on the type of chemical, though, you may need more substantial protection.
5. Carefully Follow Label Recommendations
Before preparing and mixing the chemicals, read and follow the labels carefully. The labels will detail everything from proper mixing instructions and PPE requirements to clean-up and disposal practices. Do as the label says, and the application process will be much safer.
6. Understand The Re-Entry Interval
On the label or materials safety data sheet (MSDS) of the pesticide, there should be details about the minimum amount of time that needs to pass before it is safe for people without PPE to return to areas that have been sprayed. This interval is also known as the re-entry time. There are health risks to those that do not follow these intervals and become exposed to pesticides.
7. Mix Chemicals Away From Your Face
During the mixing process, always combine the chemicals with the solvent at ground-level and never right next to your face. Keep the chemicals at arm’s length away to help reduce the risk of exposure due to splashing.
8. Work Upwind
Always take into account the direction of the wind or drafts. The air movement can carry fumes and mists of the pesticide toward you if you’re not paying attention. Be sure to work with pesticides upwind (the opposite direction that the wind is blowing).
9. After Application, Fully Clean PPE and Clothing
PPE and clothing that has been exposed to pesticides and other chemicals should be washed immediately. To prevent contamination with your family’s clothes, it’s suggested that you have a dedicated washer and dryer for your protective clothing. Once cleaned, store your protective clothing and PPE together.
10. Properly Store and Dispose of Pesticides
The risk of pesticide exposure can be present even after the application of chemicals has finished due to improper storage of these chemicals. Store the pesticide in a dedicated and isolated area, add a warning sign to the cabinet or storage area, indicating that chemicals are near. Regularly check to see if the chemicals are leaking. Always store the chemicals in their original containers, so the warning labels and instructions are with the compounds.
Contact E4 To Determine If Pesticide Application Is Right For Your Field
At E4 Crop Intelligence, we pride ourselves on being a truly independent agronomy firm. We don’t sell inputs, but we help growers make the best decisions possible by looking at data to determine their specific operational needs. When it comes to dealing with pests, our team of agronomy experts can scout your fields and help determine the best course of action if pest issues arise.
For more information about additional farming tips, agronomy insight, and the revolutionary agronomy services of E4 Crop Intelligence, visit E4CropIntelligence.com.