Crop protection products like pesticides and fertilizers are powerful tools that farmers take seriously. Before any farmer can use these products, they must go through training to become certified. This ensures they understand how to safely handle the chemicals, properly apply them, keep our communities safe, protect the environment and reduce risk to those who are applying them. The EPA makes sure label instructions are clear and easy to use, and that the pesticide does not place workers at risk. Here’s a look at the key components of a proper application:
- Rate: With today’s advanced farm technology, farmers can apply products at a precise and variable rate based on specific needs, which reduces the overall amount they need to use.
- Time: Sometimes it’s important to act early to get ahead of a weed or pest. Sometimes, farmers will identify an issue during the growing season and need to act quickly. Either way, timing is crucial. The weather also plays a big role in determining when it’s safe to spray. Farmers take all this into consideration when deciding when and how often to apply.
- Place: Crops can only access fertilizers or pesticides if they are applied in the right place so farmers need to be specific about how and where they apply them.
“One misunderstanding I frequently hear is that farmers spray as much pesticides on crops as possible. That’s not true. The USDA regulates pesticides, and they’re expensive. Using pesticides in my garden and on the farm helps make my job easier and helps plants reach their full potential.” – Morgan, farmer from Colman