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Options for Pesticide Use in Organic Systems - 12/13/18 (WEBINAR)

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On December 13, 2018 we conducted a webinar titled  “Options for Pesticide Use in Organic Systems" devoted to chemical methods of weed control on certified organic operations. The goal was to bring attention to the classes of organic-approved materials that can be used in both annual vegetable systems as well as perennial systems.

On this page, you will also find the slides for each individual presentation, along with many additional resources for choosing, handling, and reporting pesticide use on a certified organic farm or ranch.

Note: The list of materials approved for use by the USDA is constantly changing. Before applying any pesticide, it is recommended that you consult with your certifier to make sure that the material and chosen application will not jeopardize your certification.

Three presenters covered different topic areas:

  • MATERIALS, APPLICATIONS & EFFICACY: John Roncoroni, Weed Science Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, Napa County
  • SAFETY IN HANDLING & APPLICATION: Lisa Blecker, Coordinator of Pesticide Safety Education Program, UC Statewide IPM Program
  • REGULATIONS & OBLIGATIONS: Allison Klein, Inspector, Marin County Department of Ag, Weights and Measures

Key learnings included:

  • “Pesticide” refers to any material applied to control a pest, including weeds, bugs or disease
  • Chemical options for organic operations are rather limited, and generally fit best within a regimen of practices that include tillage, mowing and targeted use of mulching, flaming or grazing by livestock
  • Because all organic-approved materials are contact herbicides, none will be 100% effective with perennials or grasses whose growth tips lie below the surface. Effectiveness is increased through:
    • Application during sunny (and in some cases warm) days
    • Mix of materials with an adjuvant/surfactant
    • (For some materials) constant agitation during application
    • Timing of application to follow soon after irrigation, before plants are too large or mature
  • Labels on pesticides contain the essential information for the safe application of the material:
    • Active ingredients
    • Signal Word (“Caution”, “Warning”, “Danger”, etc.)
    • Recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • Use directions including proper handling, application and mix with other materials
  • Farmers and ranchers that are producing agricultural commodities must use only registered materials and cannot use homemade pesticides or other materials not explicitly approved for use as a pesticide. The EPA or CA Registration number are the best indicator that a material is approved for use as a pesticide. Always read the product label to make sure that the pesticide can be used on your agricultural commodity.
  • Farmers and ranchers must keep records of their pesticide use and report this use to the County Agricultural Commissioner by the 10th of the month following the month of application. This even includes products with EPA numbers that are meant for household use.
  • Farmers and ranchers can secure the appropriate Operator ID Number and other reporting procedures from their local Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

Resources from webinar presenters:

Pesticide Options – Materials, Applications and Efficacy

  John Roncoroni - Weed Science Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, Napa County

Pesticide Use Safety

  Lisa Blecker - UC Statewide IPM Program, Coordinator of Pesticide Safety Education

Pesticide Regulations

  Allison Klein - Inspector, Marin County Department of Ag, Weights & Measures

General Organic Materials Resources

*NOTE: Always ask your certifier first. Material lists are not always up to date, and labels can be misleading.