MDA reminds Minnesotans to use pesticides and fertilizers with careWhether people apply pesticides or fertilizers on their own or hire a professional, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) urges them to be safe, and to read and follow the label directions.
With the arrival of spring, many Minnesotans are thinking about tending to their lawns, trees, and gardens. Whether people apply pesticides or fertilizers on their own or hire a professional, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) urges them to be safe, and to read and follow the label directions.
For the do-it-yourself crowd, the take-home message is that the “label is the law.” Pesticide and fertilizer product labels provide important information about how to use the product safely and effectively. In Minnesota, applying a product in a manner that is inconsistent with label instructions is a violation of the law.
For those choosing to hire a professional lawn care provider, it is a good idea to do a little homework. State law requires applicators to have a license from MDA if they are commercially applying weed and feed products, fertilizers supplying plant nutrients, or pesticides designed to control pests such as weeds, insects or fungi. To be licensed by MDA, applicators must demonstrate the necessary qualifications, knowledge and training to perform weed or insect control, ornamental plant maintenance, tree-care, fertilization and other lawn and garden services safely and effectively.
Whether you are hiring a professional or doing the work yourself, these tips can help ensure lawn, garden and tree-care services are performed correctly:
Licensed professionals must carry a valid ID card, so ask to see it before they start work;
Be wary of people who make promises that sound too good to be true, claim that their products are completely safe, or pressure you to commit to and sign a service contract;
Note warning flags that are posted at entry points to alert people that a treatment was made to the area;
Review written records provided by applicators to document their work, including products used and amounts applied;
If you do it yourself, do not apply if the weather conditions are not right. For example, high wind can cause products to drift off-site and potentially harm people or plants;
Sweep up any product from sidewalks or other hard surfaces and reapply it to the intended site; and
Buy only what you need and store unused product safely.
Consumers can call the Better Business Bureau at 800-646-6222 and ask for customer satisfaction history about lawn care companies. For information about applicator licenses, call MDA at (651) 201-6615. To report an unlicensed person making an application, file a complaint on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us