Multi-agency wall charts for Hawaii pesticide users now availableUniversity of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Project Manager, On-Farm Food Safety, ADAP
Frederika Bain, (808) 956-3092
Writer/Editor, Office of Communication Services
Three state entities have collaborated to create wall charts that offer critical information that all agricultural businesses with employees must know, including those handling any type of pesticide. When using pesticides, “The label is the law,” says Jim Hollyer, program manager of the On-Farm Food Safety coaching program within the UHM College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). The problem is that many farmers and workers do not know precisely what the laws regarding pesticides are, or how to navigate the terminology on the label.
Hollyer worked with a project team of CTAHR members Donna Meyer, Dr. Fred Brooks and Luisa Castro to create two 36” x 42” wall reference charts for use on farms, nurseries, commercial forests and greenhouses where pesticides have been or are being applied. This project also included help from other colleagues within the college and at the state Department of Agriculture’s (HDOA) Pesticides Branch and the Department of Health’s Sanitation Branch, with helpful review from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 9 in San Francisco.
Said Hollyer, “We wanted to give farmers and other agricultural pesticide applicators an information product that would help them protect their employees and use pesticides safely and effectively.” For example, many farmers don’t know when to allow employees to reenter a sprayed field or what protective equipment the employees should wear. The wall charts teach them how to find this information for each pesticide. For farms undergoing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audits, using pesticides incorrectly can be an automatic failure of the audit. Similarly, a certified organic farm that is misusing pesticides can also lose its organic certification for a period of time. Master Gardeners should also know this information.
Important aspects of pesticide safety are dosage—the concentration and amount of pesticide used—and target—which pests it controls, and on which crops. Explained Dr. Brooks, a pesticide safety education instructor, “With pesticides, the dose makes the poison.” This means if enough pesticide of any type, non-organic or organic, is applied to a pest, it can kill it. It’s a poison. In fact, many plants make their own natural pesticides to protect themselves from pests, said Brooks.
The point, added Hollyer, is to know "if the pesticide is legal to use, how much of the pesticide is allowed to be used, and then to apply it correctly.” To ensure this, the U.S. EPA requires that all pesticides, except minimum risk pesticides (25 [b]), undergo rigorous field and laboratory testing for efficacy and human safety. The final dosages on the pesticide label include a margin of safety 10 to 100 times greater than the tested safety level to further protect children and the elderly. For commercial users, such as conventional and organic farms, the site, crop or crop group must be on the pesticide label or the application is in violation of federal and state law. Stiff monetary fines may be assessed for violations.
Said Steve Russo, a pesticide educator at the HDOA, “The Department has taken an increased interest in pesticide safety. Education and enforcement both play a role in ensuring legal compliance, but there is no more useful method for educating farmers than a combination of on-farm visits and classes to promote safety for both the farm workers and those that consume the farm produce. These charts fit into our education program.” Hollyer and Brooks, both former U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, hope that the type of information on the charts, and the way it is presented, will also be useful in the developing world. The chart structure and template are freely available to reputable organizations through UHM CTAHR’s Office of Communication Services.
Funding for this project came from the HDOA’s Agribusiness Development Corporation as part of a larger farm food safety project at CTAHR. The twin reference charts are available free (for pick-up only, no mailing will be done) at the HDOA offices, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Associations may pick up more than one set to distribute to their members.
- Hawaiʻi island – Hilo side
16E Lanikaula Street, Hilo, Hawai‘i 96720-4302
- Maui County
635 Mua Street, Kahului, Hawai‘i 96732-2322
- Kaua‘i island
4398A Pua Loke Street, Lihu‘e, Hawai‘i 96766-5671
- O‘ahu island
1428 South King Street , Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96814-2512
For more information at the Department of Agriculture, contact Steve Russo at Steve.Russo@hawaii.gov.
For more information, visit: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu