Friday, June 28, 2019

WSDA hosts a national Pesticide Inspector Regulatory Training

Gary Buckner and Tim W. Schultz
Pesticide Management Division

Pesticide inspectors from around the country met in Kennewick
this May for a national conference hosted by WSDA.
Pesticide inspectors from all around the United States convened in Kennewick this May for a national Pesticide Inspector Regulatory Training (PIRT) conference on pesticide drift issues.

WSDA’s Pesticide Management Division Compliance Program hosted the event in conjunction with Washington State University (WSU) Pesticide Education and with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Forty-one state and tribal pesticide inspectors, 10 EPA staff, and 11 WSDA Pesticide Compliance field staff attended the four-day conference to hone their knowledge and skills about a wide range of pesticide issues, including labeling, drift, and human health concerns.

The training featured presentations from Washington State Department of Health, EPA, WSU, North Dakota State University, Arkansas State Plant Board, Colorado Department of Agriculture, University of California Davis, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Agrimetrix Research and Training, and WinField United.

Drift happens

Demonstration of new application method for vineyards.
Pesticide drift unfortunately can occur in certain situations. How the pesticide inspector approaches the situation, understands the technology, evaluates the environmental conditions and gathers the pertinent information are key to understanding what has happened. Gathering this information helps guide the appropriate response.

The courses provided an opportunity for inspectors to learn, discuss and expand their knowledge and skills when dealing with drift related issues.

Topics covered

The conference included presentations from four inspectors sharing specific drift cases from their respective states. Participants discovered that many states share the same drift issues.

Other topics covered during the conference included:
  • Human health exposure concerns
  • Pesticide label language
  • Herbicide volatility
  • Inversions
  • Herbicide symptoms
  • Dicamba drift issues in the Midwest
  • Drift control
  • Evidence collection 
  • Adjuvants 

In the field

Tools of the trade for aerial applicators. 
Outside the conference room, attendees spent one day in the field. The morning visit featured a trip to WSU’s Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research Extension Center (IAREC) for a look at nozzle technology, equipment issues, and new pesticide application technology in vineyards.

In the afternoon, attendees traveled to a local airfield to discuss aerial pesticide application and drift issues with three pilots who do aerial applications.

Worth the effort

Those of us at WSDA and WSU who organized the event were pleased to see the many positive course reviews from attendees. They made the 10-months of planning well worth the effort.

For tips on preventing pesticide drift see this WSDA Ag Briefs article.