By Clint Thompson
Farmers interested in using the herbicide Paraquat this year will have to abide by new regulations mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension weed specialist Eric Prostko said the new rules include a training that are all applicators must participate in.
“There’s 3 things growers need to be aware of. No. 1, there’s an EPA Training Website that you can go on. You sign in, go online and watch a video. Once you’re done watching that video, there’s a test that you take. Once you successfully complete that test, you’ll print off a certificate that says you have completed the paraquat training,” Prostko said. “Additionally, for 2020, Paraquat will only be able to be applied by certified applicators. That means that if a grower has a worker on their farm that makes their pesticide applications, they must be certified to apply Paraquat.
“The third thing is the handling of the Paraquat in the future will all be in enclosed systems which includes 150-gallon bulk tanks, 250-gallon bulk tanks and 2.5-gallon jugs that are specially fitted to prevent removal of the Paraquat into non-approved containers.”
Prostko said the EPA administered the new regulations because since 2000, there’s been a reported 17 deaths because people accidentally ingested Paraquat because it was in a non-approved container.
According to the CDC website, Paraquat is a toxic chemical primarily used for weed and grass control. Prostko believes these new guidelines will have a wide-reaching impact since producers use Paraquat significantly.
“It’s going to affect everybody that sprays Paraquat. At some point in 2020, you’re going to be affected by it,” Prostko said. “We couldn’t reduce tillage without it. We use it significantly in peanuts. It’s a nice mode of action to have in our system because it’s helping us with long term resistance management and breaks up the cycle of over-using glyphosate.”
Prostko added that producers are likely not going to see changes occur with the 2.5-gallon jugs until later this summer when existing supplies and existing containers are used up and new ones go into effect.