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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Best Management Practices > Mixing, Loading, and Storing Pesticides

Mixing, Loading, and Storing Pesticides

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 applicable legal requirements when mixing and loading pesticides including:

  • Always read and follow all product label directions and precautions appearing on or included with pesticide containers. Read and follow local, state, and federal regulations regarding pesticide handling procedures.
  • Local regulations may include posting application information, field re-entry restrictions for treated areas, and zoning restrictions on pesticide use and storage. Refer to your city, township, and county for more details.
  • Factsheets on state regulations are available.
  • Federal regulations can be found on product labels. Always abide by the most restrictive requirements.
  • Develop an incident response plan for dealing with pesticide releases (incidents) quickly and effectively. A plan describes the pesticide storage, handling, disposal, and incident response practices at a given location. Incident response plans are required for locations involved in commercial pesticide application, noncommercial pesticide application, structural pest control, and locations which have bulk storage of pesticides and fertilizers including anhydrous ammonia. However, having an incident response plan is recommended for anyone who is storing and handling pesticides. Information is available on preparing an incident response plan.
  • Mix and load pesticides and clean pesticide equipment within an impervious curbed loading area designed to capture and contain spills, leaks, and wash water. Guidance on loading area design is available in Minnesota Rule 1505.3070. Use of an impervious curbed loading area is required when handling bulk pesticides, but is recommended for all pesticide handling activities.
  • Do not mix, load pesticides, or clean application equipment near wells or sinkholes. Follow product label requirements for safe isolation distances between pesticide use activities, wells, and sinkholes. Be aware that, in some cases, Minnesota law is more restrictive than the federal law (label) and requires following setback distances between water supply wells and pesticide storage, equipment filling, and equipment cleaning facilities:
    1. 150 ft. setback is required when the facility is not roofed and no safeguard protection is used;
    2. 100 ft. setback is required when the facility is not roofed and safeguard protection is used.
    3. 50 ft. setback is required when the facility is roofed and safeguard protection is used.

      Safeguard protection practices are defined in Minnesota Rules parts 1505.3010 to 1505.3150 for bulk pesticides and in Minnesota Rules 1510.0370 to 1510.0408 and Minnesota Statutes Chapter 18C for fertilizer. Safeguards include such practices as providing secondary containment for pesticide storage, mixing, and loading activities. Although written for bulk pesticides, safeguards listed in Minnesota Rules 1505.3010 to 1505.3150 are required for all pesticide mixing and loading activities that take place within 100 ft. of a well. Also, when bulk storage of pesticides or fertilizers are involved (56 gallons or greater), safeguards are required whether a well is nearby or not.

      For more information on visit isolation distances from water-supply wells web page, or directly to Minnesota Rule 4725.4450 Water-Supply Well Distances From Contamination.

    4. Do not mix or load pesticides or clean equipment near water. Follow product label requirements for safe separation distances between pesticide use activities and rivers, streams, lakes, water impoundments, and wetlands.
    5. Prevent backflow of pesticides into wells, including irrigation wells, and other water supplies by using a fixed air gap or other backflow prevention device approved by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Plumbing Code. Code reference, example diagrams for specific applications, and installation requirements can be found at: (PDF: 908 KB / 4 pages).
    6. Storage of bulk pesticides (container sizes that are greater than 55 gallons) in Minnesota require adequate safeguards and may also require a permit by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). Refer to Pesticide and Fertilizer Storage: Permitting Requirements (PDF: 116 KB / 2 pages), or call the MDA to discuss requirements for your specific situation. Storage in container sizes of 500 gallons or more requires an MDA permit. To be issued a permit, safeguards such as secondary containment for the storage tanks and a curbed load pad area need to be in place to capture and contain spills, leaks, and wash water (see above for more details).

    Report to the Minnesota Duty Officer both threatened or actual pesticide releases that may cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment by calling 1-800-422-0798. This would include pesticide releases caused by a flood, fire, tornado, or transportation accident, and container rupture, leak, spill, and/or escape. All chemical spills must be cleaned up in their entirety as soon as practicable or according to specifications made by the MDA.

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

    • Use a closed handling system when mixing and loading pesticides. Pesticides are moved from their storage container directly to application equipment without the need to handle open pesticide containers.
    • Use a nurse tank. A nurse tank is a mobile water tank that can be used to fill or rinse application equipment in the field away from wells. Its use also prevents backflow of pesticides into wells.
    • Clean application equipment between incompatible products, different crops, and at the end of the season. Dispose of rinsate properly by following cleaning operations.

    Minnesota Department of Agriculture • University of Minnesota Extension • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
    Working cooperatively to balance pest management and water quality protection. August 2009

    MDA Contact

    Greg Harding

    Jane Boerboom

    Pesticide & Fertilizer Management Division