Greg Tople and his wife smile with their company vehicle.

Cool Chemistries: Protecting Lawns and Fields

As the owner of Mosquito Squad of Eastern South Dakota in Aberdeen, Greg Tople knows a thing or two about lawn protection. His company sprays commercial properties and lawns to protect against mosquitos, wood ticks, flies, crickets, spiders, you name it. As a farmer, Greg also knows how to protect his farm fields from pests like aphids, beetles, mites and worms. You might be surprised to find out that the two aren’t very different at all. We met with Greg to find out more about what he does.

HFT: Tell us about your farm.

Greg: I’ve been farming for 21 years with my dad. We grow soybeans and corn on our farm in Pierpont, South Dakota. I also sell seed in Pierpont and own a business called Precision Ag Solutions in Aberdeen where we help farmers manage their businesses.

HFT: It sounds like you wear many hats in your career. What made you decide to go into the insect control business?

Greg: I wanted to diversify my business. I have employees who help us on the farm, and this was a way to keep their plates full all summer. Plus, as a farmer, I know about the safety measures and chemistries behind the products, so it would be an easy learning curve to take on.

HFT: One questions we’ve received through Hungry for Truth asks if chemicals used in farming are no longer used on lawns. Is this true?

Greg: It’s not. Some states may have restrictions about where products can be applied, for instance near bodies of water, but there are no restrictions about banning products from lawn or urban use specifically. Just like for weed control, we use very similar products to protect against insects on lawns as we do on our soybean and corn fields. These products use the same chemistries, but just have different names. Some have different formulations for lawns versus farms, but they use the same mode of action to control pests. Mode of action is a term for how an insecticide or other pesticide works at the cellular level. So when these products are applied to lawns or fields, the same cellular process happens to control pests.

HFT: What would you say to people who wonder about the difference between lawn and farm products?

Greg: I think the main thing to realize is that these products are not much different from each other. When I buy insecticides or herbicides for my farm, local lawn care people pull up and buy the same things we do, and vice versa. The products just have different names. They are labeled for use on lawns and in town. As farmers, we could take the same chemicals and spray them on our acres as well.

Both types of products have safety instructions to follow. For my farming and lawn businesses, I need to go through training to receive certification to apply chemicals. When safe practices are followed and products are applied according to the label, they are safe and keep our lawns and crops free of harmful pests.

You can find out more here:

The Lowdown on Pesticides and Fertilizers
Protecting Plants: From Field to Garden
• South Dakota Soybean Department of Agriculture: Pesticide Program

How do you control insects in your lawn or garden? Let us know in the comments.