Crop protection chemicals are an effective tool in the management of agronomic pests. They are vital to protecting the economic viability of one of the largest industries in Texas, agriculture. In Nueces County, the value of agricultural income was estimated to total roughly $150.6 million last year. Agricultural chemicals are used in every aspect of crop production from field preparation, though production and ultimately storage. While useful, like any tool, they can also be misused and that is why pesticide applicators should strive to be good stewards of this important crop production tool.
One concern of the general public often seems to be that crop producers haphazardly apply pesticides rather than rely on a specific prescription to make pesticide applications. This is far from true, and at the cost of most of these materials growers can only afford to be judicial users of pesticides. For most pesticide applicators the concept of a pesticide application prescription is based on the economic threshold for a specific pest. Economic threshold is the density of a pest at which a control treatment will provide an economic benefit above the cost of the treatment.
A good pest treatment prescription will use the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) and evaluate all your pest control options – biological, chemical, cultural, genetic, and mechanical to control the pest. An IPM approach archives the desired pest control at a reasonable cost and with constant attention to protecting the environment through good stewardship.
Avoiding drift is another concern, and in the Lower Coastal Bend where the wind is always blowing (and in the heat of August we are glad it is) drift management is critical. There is no one technique that can minimize spray drift – you must consider the weather conditions, the application equipment, the sensitive areas downwind of the application, and buffers. Extra precautions should be taken to minimize drift when sensitive areas are known to be in close proximity.
There is often a misconception in the general public that a completely calm day is required to minimize drift. However, wind is actually needed to prevent spray droplets from hovering or being trapped in a layer of air moving horizontally known as an inversion. Having a breeze helps push spray droplets into the canopy and make immediate contact with the target.
AgriLife Extension offers pesticide education services to applicators who are licensed or who need to be licensed to apply crop protection chemicals. Non-Commercial and Commercial applicators are required to participate in 5 hours of training know as continuous education units (CEUs) each year in order to maintain their applicators licenses. This includes a minimum of 1 hour of education in both IPM and pesticide laws and regulations. Applicators with Private Applicators Licenses must receive 15 hours of CEUs every 5 years to maintain their license and must include a minimum of 2 hour of education in both IPM and pesticide laws and regulations.
For those wishing to obtain a Private Applicators Licenses we offer classes the first Tuesday of every even numbered month to become certified to take the private applicators license exam. We also offer Worker Protection Standards training to employees of pesticide applicators who may be working under the direction of a licensed applicator. These are offered three times per year; the next being October 9th. For more information on pesticide safety contact our office at 361.767.5223