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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Best Management Practices > Pesticide Application How-tos

Pesticide Application How-To's

Pesticides are one of many tools available to us for effective protection of crops from weeds, insects and diseases. Pesticides require special care and handling. The following practices outline safe, responsible and effective procedures for pesticide use and handling that can help protect our environment, our water supplies - and ourselves.

Pesticide users must follow all legal requirements such as:

  • Always read and follow all product label directions and precautions, appearing on (or included with) the pesticide containers. Read and follow local, state and federal regulations regarding pesticide application procedures, including posting and field re-entry restrictions for treated areas.
  • Private applicators of restricted use pesticides must be properly certified by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
  • Applicators must know the exact location of the area to be treated, as well as the potential hazard of spray drift or subsequent pesticide movement to surrounding areas.
  • Avoid spray drift. It is illegal to allow spray drift to move off the target site.
  • Obtain a chemigation permit through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture before applying pesticides through an irrigation system. Only pesticides labeled for chemigation may be used. All chemigation systems must be fitted with effective anti-siphon devices, or check valves to prevent backflow into water supplies, as detailed in local and state regulations.

In addition to legal requirements, consider the following voluntary Best Management Practices (BMPs) when making pesticide application and handling decisions.

  • Calibrate equipment properly before mixing and loading pesticides at the beginning of each season, and recalibrate periodically and whenever the type of nozzle is changed. Replace worn nozzle tips, cracked hoses and faulty gauges.
  • Time application in relation to existing soil moisture, anticipated weather conditions and irrigation schedules to achieve the greatest product performance and reduce potential for off-site transport. (Includes timing herbicide applications to avoid high-energy rainfall shortly after application.)
  • Apply post-emergence herbicides when weeds are at their most vulnerable growth stage.
  • Apply pesticides uniformly across the target area (except in situations where variable rate technology is being used).
  • Use the lowest appropriate rate to minimize pesticide loss to the environment.
  • Band apply or spot treat where appropriate.
  • Incorporate pesticides where appropriate to minimize surface runoff whenever:
  • product performance can be maintained;
  • product label guidelines allow incorporation; and
  • incorporation tillage will not result in excessive erosion.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture • University of Minnesota Extension • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Working cooperatively to balance pest management and water quality protection. October 2008

MDA Contact

Ron Struss
Pesticide & Fertilizer Management Division