Agrochemicals: know the law

Niche Unity, supporting best practice small farming and sustainable rural development

The Act (National Pest control operator regulations Act No. 36 of 1947) states the following:

“A registered pest control operator who functions in a supervisory role shall be responsible for the actions of a pest control operator (s) under his/her instruction or management.

The registered pest control operator shall be physically present to supervise the application of agricultural remedies by an unregistered pest control operator(s).

The pest control operator must:

Know about applicable safe use requirements specified in regulations and on the agricultural remedies labeling;

Take all reasonable measures to ensure that employees handle and use agricultural remedies in accordance with the requirements of Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act No. 85 of 1993) and agricultural remedies product label.

A pest control operator must ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken to prevent the drift or spread of agricultural remedies from a treated area. If agricultural remedies under the control of a pest control operator has drifted or spread to a non-targeted area, the pest control operator must:

(a) notify the adjacent occupants of the following:

(i) identity of the agricultural remedies,
(ii) nature of its harmful characteristics. and
(iii) precautions required for the safety of people, environment or crops.

(b) in the case of the drift, take all reasonable steps to :

(i) identify the agricultural remedies and advise any persons who may be exposed to it of the nature of the agricultural remedies, its harmful characteristics and the precautions required for safety, and
(ii) ensure that any hazards to persons from exposure to the agricultural remedies are eliminated or controlled.

For example a widely used pesticide; 2-4-D Amine product label stipulates:

“Dangerous to use in the vicinity of any broadleaf crop. May not be used under any circumstances in the vicinity of sensitive crops. Aerial and tractor spraying under warm or windy conditions is extremely hazardous. Phytotoxicity to sensitive crops some distance away is a distinct possibility. Avoid drift from ground and aerial applications so that it will not come into contact with sensitive broadleaf crops.”

The product label further stipulate the following: “Do not apply under circumstances where spray drift may occur to food, forage or other plantings that might be damaged or crops thereof rendered unfit for sale, use or consumption.”

Surely we can surmise that part of ‘reasonable precautions’ stated above in the regulations would include that:

  1. it is the responsibility of a registered pest control operator to make provisions for localized environmental factors, such as eddies, contour winds and valley inversions to ensure non-target areas are not adversely affected (See notes at end, epa 2,4 d product guidelines for spray drift reg 34704-120); and\
  2. That the following drift parameters and ground rule applications should be abided by:
  • product label advises the following drift parameters in the event of adverse winds on site (p 4 of product regulation)
  • The ground Application rules state the following:
  • Avoid fine droplet size – use low pressure flat fan nozzles of 80 degrees or equivalent ant-drift type, and do not exceed spray pressure of 200 kPa.
  • Spray volume must exceed 150 l/ha.
  • Do not exceed spray height of 50 cm above target and ground speed of 10 km/h.
  • Do not apply if wind velocity exceeds 15 km/hour (as measured by handheld wind recorder approved by the Registrar: Act 36 of 1947).
  • The difference between the wet and dry bulb readings on a whirling hygrometer must not exceed 8 degrees Celsius.

That for each agricultural remedy used, pest control operator records should include details of the method and rate of application and, amongst other points, indicate:

  • the type of apparatus used for the administration concerned;
  • measures taken to prevent exposures to non – target areas;
  • Records of any complaint received in connection with the administration concerned. Quoting form the regulations: “(2) The documents in which the particulars referred to in subregulation (1) are recorded, shall be preserved at the address of the registered pest control operator or business referred to in sub-regulation (1), or at such other place as may on application be approved by the Registrar, for at least two years after the day on which the administration concerned was made for general pest control.”

The regulations further state that: “Any person who refuses or fails to comply with the provisions of these regulations shall be guilty of an offence, fine and/or imprisonment.”

Niche Union logo created by dottedlinedesign