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Pesticide regulations: Prepare for the worst

By |  May 12, 2022 0 Comments
(Photo: USGA)

Tracking, monitoring and sampling pest populations is more important to maximize control using the chemistries available, while minimizing the risk of another problematic pest. (Photo: USGA)

Working in Europe for almost four years, I observed how strict some countries were with pesticide use regulations. To hope that similar restrictions and regulations will never impact the U.S. and our industry may be wishful thinking. There is legislation currently proposed to ban certain insecticides critical to maintaining golf course turf and proposed regulations that mirror the EU.

It is vital to support advocacy and educational efforts. Still, it may be worth making plans for worst-case scenarios. Does your program rely heavily on pesticides or one pesticide in particular? What would happen if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pulls the registration or cuts the allowed rate or the number of applications?

Take stock of the pests that affect your course and the applications made to control them. Organizing these by chemical class, mode of activity and the number of applications can clarify whether you depend too much on one chemical or one class of chemistry. Different management approaches — whether chemical or cultural — can help reduce applications and perhaps prolong the longevity of the available products.

Pesticides, today, are generally narrower in the spectrum, lower in rates and longer in residual. We also have fewer modes of activity to control pests. Companies introduce fewer new chemicals each year, leading to more reliance on what is available. As a result, monitoring, sampling and tracking pest populations is more important to maximize that control while minimizing the risk of another pest becoming problematic.

I once helped a golf course in an environmentally sensitive area put together a plan for each pest and preferred treatments based on thresholds, the optimum timing for applications and risks based on water solubilities, half-life and potential for binding to organic matter. The plan helped alleviate concerns from the public and governmental agencies and prioritize needed pesticide applications.

The best time to prepare for a crisis is before it hits. Having a plan and an alternative helps keep you ready for any future changes.



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