Why you need a pesticide certification strategy

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

The winter meeting season is winding down and field work will soon begin in earnest. Several farmers this past winter have said they do not plan to renew their private pesticide certification. Reasons include:

  • All they use are general use pesticides, such as glyphosate, on their field crops.
  • They do not need to attend winter meetings in which pesticide re-certification credits are available.
  • They need to deal with the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) and they are upset at the $50 fee.

Why would a farmer want to go through the hassles of maintaining their pesticide certification if they are only using general use pesticides? In many situations farmers will be dealing with the government either on the front side of something, or else on the back side.

Being proactive regarding pesticides means: dealing with the MDA on their certification, calibrating their sprayer at least once a year, attending meetings to keep up with new integrated pest management recommendations, new pesticides, etc. Having a pesticide certification also allows a farmer the flexibility to tank mix residual products with glyphosate, some pesticides of which may be for restricted use only.

When Roundup came onto the soybean market in 1996 in Michigan I said at summer field days that the nice thing about it was that there is no residual to worry about for crop rotation injury purposes. The bad thing about it was that there was no residual for later emerging weeds.

Dealing with the government on the back side may mean dealing with MDA on a drift complaint or possibly ending up in court, buying a new suit to wear and hiring a lawyer. What if there is a pesticide spill? Or a farm or family member gets sick from a pesticide application? Will your farm owners insurance policy provide protection if you do not keep up on good management practices?

I get involved in numerous drift complaints, farmer against farmer and non-farmer against farmer. Some of these end up in court. Which one is cheaper? Which one is better? I suggest that all farmers maintain their professional farming credentials, including a pesticide certification.

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