pesticides

Pesticide Law Primer Developed for Schools

school athletic fieldPesticide Law Primer Developed by UConn Extension for Connecticut School Grounds Managers, Superintendents, Teachers, and Members of the School Community

UConn Extension, with the CT Department of Energy and Environment (CT DEEP), has developed a series that explains and clarifies Connecticut’s pesticide restrictions on school grounds.

In 2010, Connecticut state legislation banned the application of all pesticides registered with EPA, and labeled for use on lawn, garden, and ornamental sites, on the grounds of public or private daycares and schools with grades K-8. The law was amended in 2015 to allow the use of horticultural oils and microbial and biochemical pesticides.

Since enactment of this legislation, weed control on school ground properties has been a significant challenge for school grounds managers. Although the law is nearly 10 years old, widespread understanding and awareness of the law remains elusive. UConn Extension’s primers aim to break down the most essential details of the law for grounds managers, administrators, parents, guardians, teachers, and other members of the school community.

Vickie Wallace and Alyssa Siegel-Miles, of UConn Extension, with the assistance of Diane Jorsey, of CT DEEP, created three string trimming on school groundsversions of the primer: a brochure for the school community; a more detailed primer for school administrators, and longer primer that includes management information for school grounds managers.

The primers answer the most frequently asked questions, such as:

  • Which school locations are affected by this law?
  • Which pesticides are banned?
  • Who can apply minimum risk pesticides on school properties?
  • Are exemptions to the law permitted for emergencies?
  • Are there pesticide products that are permitted for use on K-8 school properties?
  • How must a school notify the school community, including parents, of pesticide applications, whether minimum risk or emergency?
  • Can playing fields, grounds, and lawns be managed without the use of pesticides?

 

Read and download the primers:

A Superintendents’ Primer on Connecticut’s School Grounds Pesticide Regulations:

http://ipm.uconn.edu/documents/view.php?id=1451

A School Grounds Manager’s Primer on Connecticut’s School Grounds Pesticide Regulations: http://ipm.uconn.edu/documents/view.php?id=1450

School Grounds Pesticide Regulations for the School Community (brochure):

http://ipm.uconn.edu/documents/view.php?id=1452

Natural Pesticide Issues

pink roses in a natural garden in West Hartford
Roses in a garden in West Hartford. Photo: Max Pixel

As the gardening season gets underway, lots of homemade weed-killer “recipes” are cropping up on social media, usually containing some combination of vinegar, Epsom salts, and Dawn dishwashing soap. These are often accompanied by a comment such as “no need for pesticides or herbicides!” It may feel good to use familiar household items to control pests and weeds in your garden, but it’s important to understand the science behind such mixes – and the potential risks.

First and foremost, these mixtures ARE pesticides or herbicides. They are intended to kill a pest, in this case weeds.

Now, let’s look at the science:

Vinegar is an acid. At the right concentration, it damages by burning any part of a plant it comes in contact with. If the plant is in the ground, it does NOT get the root; many plants will grow back. It is non-selective, meaning it will damage any plant it touches, including desired ones. Household vinegar is 5% acetic acid; to be effective on anything other than tiny seedlings the concentration needs to be at least 10%. Horticultural-grade vinegar is 20% and can carry a “Danger – caustic” signal word, which is stronger than many other herbicides on the market.

Salts work by desiccating plants – again, all parts of the plant it touches. Salts, however, build up in the soil and can harm desired plants nearby. Since most homemade recipes need repeated application to be effective, the salts will build up. Epsom salts are touted because they contain magnesium instead of sodium, but too much magnesium will interfere with phosphorus uptake.

Dawn detergent is not a naturally-occurring substance. It, like any soap, is used as a sticker agent, helping the other materials stay on the plant longer. Like many detergents, it contains methylisothiazolinone, which has acute aquatic toxicity and 1,4-dioxane, which is a known groundwater contaminant with carcinogenic properties.

These may be do-it-yourself recipes, but they definitely are not natural.

An additional issue with home recipes is the variability of the mix. Many don’t even have specific measurements. Also, because home remedies are often perceived as “safer”, a person may choose to increase the concentrations, changing the potential environmental risk.

Many of these recipes do indeed kill – or at least reduce – weeds and unwanted vegetation. But they also have collateral impacts, some of which may be significant.

The garden center shelves have changed in the last several years. There are now many naturally-derived pesticides on the market, which have been tested for effectiveness, are labelled as to their environmental impact and deliver a consistent product every time. They generally are safer to use and pose less environmental risk than many of the older synthetic materials – the same goal of homemade mixes. Look for products that are OMRI certified. The Organic Materials Review Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides an independent review of products, such as fertilizers and pest controls that are intended for use in organic production.

For more information, please contact the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program. Find the location nearest you at https://mastergardener.uconn.edu/ or email Sarah.Bailey@uconn.edu. Download a copy of this article at http://bit.ly/HomePesticide.

Article by Sarah Bailey, State Coordinator, UConn Extension Master Gardener Program

Solid Ground Farmer Trainings in January

The following Solid Ground Farmer Trainings are scheduled for January.

BF 106: Vegetable Production for Small Scale Farming – January 5th

BF 240: Pesticide Safety for Conventional & Organic Producers – January 9th

BF 270: Welding Basics for Agriculture – January 12th – FULL

BF 110: Growing Crops in Low, High and Movable Tunnels – January 26th

All classes are free, but registration is requested. Email Charlotte.Ross@uconn.edu for more information.

New Greenhouse Pest Guide Web App

Pest app

 

http://tiny.cc/greenhousepestguide

 

Try our new mobile optimized website app for commercial growers that contains options for biological control and pesticides for management of insect and mite pests common in commercial greenhouse production.  This app can be used on your computer, smart phone or other electronic device.

 

This was a cooperative project between Leanne Pundt of UConn’s IPM program and Tina Smith, Project Leader, Extension Floriculture Specialist for the University of Massachusetts Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture Program.