Practicing safety with pesticides: Important questions to ask yourself

Important questions to ask yourself

Tony Nye - OSU Extension

It was great driving around Clinton county this week and seeing all the farm work being done. From field preparation, to spraying and applying fertilizer to even planting, farmers were hard at it until the rain.

With the wonderful weather and almost perfect soil conditions, there has certainly been much debate about planting crops this early. It has been a long time since I have seen this much planting happening the first week of April.

I will leave the “to plant or not to plant” debate for those that have boots on the ground. In the end, Mother Nature will determine if it was too early to plant.

Speaking of Mather Nature, the weather experts are suggesting the climate pattern is in a state of a flux. The La Nina pattern is weakening rapidly and will cause changes in weather patterns in the coming weeks and will result in lower confidence forecasting for a while during this change.

Currently, April looks like a warmer than normal month with normal or slightly below normal rainfall. However, we could still see big swings in temperatures so the last freeze will likely be in the normal range which is generally mid-April for southern Ohio to late April for northern Ohio.

This could be the scenario in the next couple of weeks as some predictions show nighttime temperatures dipping into the 30’s.

Beneficial rains will fall over most of the corn and soybean belts in April with the least rain likely in the eastern areas including Ohio.

Over the next two weeks our weather specialists expect 0.50 to 2 inches of rain with normal rainfall being 1.5 to just under 2 inches. Hence rainfall is forecast the next two weeks to be 50-100% of normal.

Soil moisture is in good shape in southern Ohio, but is short in northern Ohio and needs to be watched carefully. Soil moisture will improve in most of the corn and soybean belts in April especially in the western half of the region which needs it.

However, soil conditions in Ohio will likely stay the same or get a bit drier in April with above normal temperatures, above normal evapotranspiration rates and normal to below normal rainfall.

As always with weather, stay tuned — it will surely change.

With all the farm field activity, I thought I would share some information from the Ohio State University Pesticide Safety Education Program regarding spring pesticide safety reminders.

Have you put any effort into preparing for applicator safety? Here are some questions to ask yourself in preparation for the season:

• Do I have the required personal protective equipment on hand?

• Review your pesticide labels, and make sure you do. One of the new dicamba formulations used on DT soybeans requires a respirator – did you know that? Be sure you have whatever the label requires.

• Are you sure you have the right kind of PPE? Let your pesticide label be your guide. Leather or cotton gloves do not protect you from pesticides – they absorb chemical and hold it close to your skin! (One exception: certain fumigants do call for the use of cotton gloves. Otherwise, these are not appropriate to use with pesticides.) Read labels carefully to make sure your PPE have required level of chemical resistance. Finally, conventional agricultural pesticides all require long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes, and socks at a minimum. Are you in compliance with the label?

• Are you applying pesticides from inside an enclosed cab? The label may not require you to wear the PPE inside the enclosed cab, but you must have it available in case you have to exit to the field while spraying.

• Mixing and loading in the field? Make sure you have soap, water, and paper towels available to you to wash up before smoking, drinking, eating, or using a restroom. In case you were to splash concentrated chemical on you, having a spare set of clothing is a good idea too.

• Are you using a pesticide that requires eye protection? Choose eye protection that offers side protection from splashes. Also, you must have eye wash on hand when mixing and loading if the label requires eye protection. Someday these precautions could save you from serious eye injury.

• Look at your chemical storeroom. Are there any leaky containers, or containers that are missing their labels? Take steps now to fix those problems and remember: NEVER USE A FOOD OR DRINK STORAGE CONTAINER FOR PESTICIDES. Sadly, fatalities have occurred from this poor decision. Also make sure your chemical storage is secure enough to keep children and unauthorized people out.

• Have you stored your PPE in the pesticide cabinet or storeroom? If so, remove and store it in another location. Some pesticides are volatile, and they can contaminate your PPE.

These are some great suggestions and reminders. Let us all make this a successful and safe planting season!

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for over 30 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.
Important questions to ask yourself

Tony Nye

OSU Extension