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Plan Now for Winter Storage of Pesticides

For farmers, the busiest time of the year is the fall. Adding something else seems to be intolerable, for those farms that have extra pesticides winter storage needs to be added to the long chore list. The best way to ensure that there is no chance of pesticide problems is to return any extra product to a pesticide dealer. If returning pesticide to a dealer is not an option, farms need to have proper pesticide storage. When pesticides are not properly stored there is a chance that products could freeze, containers could be compromised, posing a threat to people, livestock, and the environment.

The easiest way to reduce the risk of pesticide exposure to humans, livestock, and the environment is to have proper pesticide storage. The ideal storage is one that is separate from any other activities. The building should be locked, have a spill kit and a chemical fire extinguisher. The floor should be sealed, with concrete curbs to contain any spills. The building should be clearly marked as pesticide storage. If a farm is unable to dedicate a building for pesticide storage at the very least there should be a cabinet dedicated to storing pesticides. As with the building, the cabinet needs to be locked and clearly labeled as pesticide storage.

Once the storage location is set farmers need to be concerned with how they store pesticides. Shelving units should be metal or plastic with a lip. Wood should not be used since it will absorb spills. It is also important to put any dry formulations on the top shelves above any liquids to prevent cross contamination if liquid containers leak. Pesticides should be separated by type i.e. herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc. The oldest product should be in front so that it will be used first next spring. It is also very important that all pesticides are clearly labeled. If the label is missing or unreadable contact your chemical dealer or visit the Crop Data Management System to obtain a new label. Remember to affix the label on the container.

There are instances when a farm has outdated, unusable, or even banned pesticides. In these cases pesticides can be taken to a Clean Sweep site. Clean Sweep accepts unwanted pesticides and disposes of them properly. This is a free service funded through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to all residents in Michigan.

To find out more information on proper pesticide storage get a copy of “On-farm Agrichemical Storage and Handling”, Michigan State University Extension bulletin E-2355 from the MSU Extension Bookstore. For more information on storage of pesticides and a guide for proper storage temperature of common pesticides obtain a copy of University of Wyoming Extension bulletin MP-93.5, “Cold Weather Storage and Handling of Liquid Pesticides.

Source: Christina Curell, Michigan State University 

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