Lincoln, Neb. — Nebraska Extension’s private pesticide applicator training season gets underway in January and continues through April for the approximately 10,000 private applicators who are recertifying their licenses to apply restricted use pesticides (RUPs).

The training sessions are one of three options available for private applicators to become initially (first-time) certified or to be recertified.

A second option is the private online self-study program, which includes assessment quizzes that participants must pass to become certified.

A third method is to attend one of six Extension Crop Production Clinics in January or the Nebraska Crop Management Conference Jan. 22-23 in Kearney.

Separate, additional training is required for anyone buying and applying restricted use dicamba and paraquat.

Every three years a licensed private applicator must attend a training session or complete the self-study course approved by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), or pass an NDA exam for license renewal. Once licensed, applicators may purchase, handle, or apply RUPs. Fees are separate for Extension training and for NDA licensing.

The user-friendly online private self-study training is an exclusive training option from the Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

No matter the method, all training covers:

  • the importance of reading and following the product label, as well as protecting nontargets such as people, sensitive plants, animals, wildlife and pollinators;
  • strategies for preventing weed resistance; and
  • proper pesticide application techniques.

In addition, on-site meeting topics this year may include potential federal regulation changes. For example, a comment period about part of the federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is now underway. When any changes are known, PSEP will pass on the information to Extension Educators involved with pesticide training and through other venues.

The WPS aims to protect people involved in agricultural work from pesticide exposure. Even if there are changes, it is helpful to become familiar with WPS. An online tool, The Worker Protection Standard: Does it Apply to You?, can help workers, managers, employers, producers, and others understand the law as it is now. By answering a series of questions related to the duties of an agricultural establishment, the tool will relay if and how WPS applies to you, and what steps you or your employer need to take in order to comply.

Private applicators needing recertification in 2020 should have been notified by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture in mid-December or by their local Extension office. The NDA letter includes a bar code that eliminates the need to complete the standard NDA application form; bring the letter to the training session. Applicators also should check their licenses for the expiration date. If the license expires in 2020 but the applicator has not yet received a letter from NDA, they should contact the agency at 402-471-2351.

Participants will again use the updated EC130 Guide for Weed, Disease and Insect Management in Nebraska to learn how to use label information such as chemical group numbers as well as nonchemical techniques, to reduce development of pesticide-resistant pests. The comprehensive guide, normally $15, is included with registration.

Sites of Private Pesticide Applicator Training

Detailed information about training opportunities is available at https://pested.unl.edu or through the links listed below. Preregister by contacting host Extension offices; additional dates may be added later in December.

Separate, Required Trainings: Online Options

Annual RUP Dicamba Training

Extension training also will be held for the growing number of RUP dicamba products. It is a federal requirement to complete state-approved dicamba training each year prior to using any of these products due to the potential for drift and damage to non-target crops and vegetation. See https://pested.unl.edu/certification-and-training#dicamba for PSEP training information beginning Jan. 2. This training is free.

Paraquat Training

Beginning in fall 2019, paraquat labels began including a link to required training for anyone who mixes, loads, applies, or handles paraquat. Federal EPA online training, good for three years, provides information about paraquat’s toxicity, new label requirements and restrictions, and consequences of misuse.

Widely used in agriculture, paraquat is fatal when ingested in even a small amount; there is no antidote. Also in effect are new closed-container system standards for non-bulk end-use product containers. This means the containers must be completely sealed with no way to open and pour out the contents except into application equipment. This training is free.

For more information about pesticide safety, visit https://pested.unl.edu.

This article originally appeared on IANRnews.unl.edu:

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