Ten commandments for responsible pesticide use:
- Plan your production season carefully and only buy the pesticides and volumes that you’ll definitely need. Don’t just buy products because it’s offered at a low price, as it will likely accumulate only to have to be destroyed at a tremendous cost.
- Only buy registered pesticides from recognised dealers, preferably agents that are affiliated with CropLife SA distributor companies, in order to ensure that you buy good quality, legal products. If a pesticide does not contain a registration number on the front panel of the label, then it is illegal in South Africa. These registration numbers start with a capital letter L, followed by four numbers, for example L1234, and after that “Act Nr. 36 of 1947”
- Store your pesticides in a proper storeroom made from bricks or with concrete walls, a roof, sufficient ventilation, lighting and a lockable door. Many malicious poisonings happen with agrochemicals that have been stolen from farmers.
- Study the label of every agrochemical carefully and only apply it according to the prescribed instructions. Regulation Nr. R1716 of 26 July 1992 warns that the use of an agrochemical for any other purpose or in any other manner than what is prescribed, is a punishable violation of Act Nr.36 of 1947
- Provide your farmworkers with basic training about the safe and responsible use of pesticides
- Supply farmworkers who mix and apply pesticides with protective clothing such as a facemask, cloth hat, overall with long sleeves and long pants, rubber boots and rubber gloves. ensure that they wear their protective clothing at all times, even the tractor operator. It’s necessary to protect them from splashes, mists and oral ingestion of pesticides and spray mixtures.
- Calibrate the spray equipment to apply the correct dosage of pesticides. This includes examining the spray heads to ensure it’s not eroded or blocked. Consult your agrochemical agent for calibration advice.
- Pesticides must only be applied if weather conditions are favourable. If the south wester rears its head, or the Highveld thunderclouds are about to explode, or, if it’s so hot that everything evaporates, then it’s time to halt pesticide application for a while.
- Once the pesticide containers are empty, they need to be triple-rinsed with one quarter volume fresh water and the rinse water must be discarded in the spray tank. Containers should be left to dry and afterward, pierced or cut into pieces before handing it over to a CropLife SA approved collector or recycler. A list of approved service providers is available on croplife.co.za as well as guidelines for the management of obsolete pesticide containers.
- Avoid any malicious misuse of pesticides such as poisoning animals that cause damage. Not only is this illegal and inhumane, but it also causes a secondary poisoning risk to other animals. Some species, such as vultures, have already been dealt a huge blow through poisonings.
Contact dr Gerhard Verdoorn at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.