Kim P. Brown
The primary goal of the LSU AgCenter Pesticide Safety Education Program is to provide training for private and commercial pesticide applicators on how to use pesticides safely, effectively and correctly. The program works to provide precertification training and recertification training for those applicators that require certifications to use and purchase pesticides.
Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides and materials used to sanitize and clean the inside of structures and homes. The program works with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Pesticide Division to obtain approval to provide training to those applicators that need recertification and training.
Private pesticide applicators are individuals who use restricted-use pesticides to produce agricultural commodities for sale on property owned or rented by them or their employer. Commercial pesticide applicators are individuals who use restricted-use pesticides, normally for hire, for any purpose or on property other than that specified in the definition of “pesticide applicators.” In Louisiana there are approximately 7,000 private pesticide applicators and approximately 4,000 commercial pesticide applicators. There are more than 21 specific categories that commercial pesticide applicators can be certified in, including ornamental and turf pest control, right-of-way pest control, agricultural pest control and forestry pest control.
In addition to pesticide applicator precertification training and recertification training, the program works to provide additional materials and information to assist pesticide applicators in their jobs. This includes working to get updated information out to applicators on regulation changes and how to improve safety and accuracy before, during and after pesticide applications.
Another area of focus for the program is educating the public on the proper and safe use of pesticides, both conventional and organic. This includes providing information to the LSU AgCenter Master Gardeners and Advanced Master Gardeners on how to safely, effectively and correctly apply pesticides around the home. It is critically important that anyone applying products to control pests review and follow label instructions to ensure safe and proper use of products.
The Pesticide Safety Education Program works with AgCenter specialists to bring up-to-date information to pesticide applicators so they can make better informed application decisions. Many of these opportunities take place during recertification trainings hosted by the AgCenter. In addition, the program works to assist different professional organizations, including the Louisiana Agricultural Aviation Association, the Louisiana Turfgrass Association, the Louisiana Agricultural Consultants Association, the Louisiana Pest Control Association, the Louisiana Mosquito Control Association, and the Louisiana Vegetation Management Association.
Pesticides are important tools in protecting public health and the environment, and the LSU AgCenter strives to improve proper use of these valuable tools. For more information and the latest updates go to Pesticide Safety Education Program.
Kim P. Brown is the LSU AgCenter pesticide safety education coordinator.
(This article appears in the summer 2020 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)