Springtime in Tennessee means pesky weeds and troublesome pests will soon challenge homeowners and farmers. February is National Pesticide Safety Month, and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is reminding homeowners, agricultural producers, utility companies, and pest control professionals about the importance of pesticide safety.


“Pesticides are a valuable tool for controlling weeds, diseases, and unwanted insects, but they must be used properly,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said. “Misuse of this technology has the potential to cause harm to the applicator and neighboring crops, plants, and animals. TDA is a resource. Feel free to contact our pesticide section with questions about product labels or particular pesticides prior to making an application.”


When applying pesticides, federal law requires that you follow label directions and restrictions. Paying close attention to the directions for use, application restrictions, precautionary statements, and proper storage and disposal sections of a pesticide label is part of pesticide safety.


Label directions may include proper target sites, pests to be controlled, application methods, rates of application, maximum application rates (per treatment and per year), protective gear to be worn, and weather restrictions.


Tennessee applicators and the general public have access to training opportunities provided by University of Tennessee Extension. The Pesticide Safety and Education Program in Tennessee is a statewide educational program with the goal to protect the environment and public health from improper use of pesticides. Certain training programs, such as the dicamba training program, fulfill a portion of the federal requirements to apply pesticides.


The Tennessee Department of Agriculture works with commercial and private applicators, pesticide manufacturers and dealers, structural pest control operators, farmers, landscapers, utility companies, and others to ensure pesticide laws are followed for public safety. You will find more information on applying pesticides in Tennessee at www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/pesticides.