9 Pesticide Management
The storage and handling of pesticides on golf courses presents the greatest risk to water quality contamination because of the potential for an unintended release of a large volume of pesticide resulting in a point source of pollution to surface and/or groundwater. Therefore, the greatest attention to BMPs should be directed at storage and handling. In addition, the potential for pesticide nonpoint source pollution through runoff, leaching, or drift is minimized through proper handling and application. Adhering to pesticide regulations helps to ensure that all proper procedures are followed.
For more information on the general use and management of pesticides, see:
- Pesticide Safety Education Program, Cornell University’s Pesticide Management Education Program
- NYSDEC Bureau of Pesticides Management – Information Portal
- Pesticides overview, Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Occupational & Environmental Health Program.
BMP Principles for Pesticide Management
- Ensure full compliance with existing pesticide regulations, including applicator and technician certification and following all label directions.
- Adapt or implement as many NYS Department of Environmental Conservation pesticide storage guidelines as possible.
Assess site and weather conditions thoroughly before applying pesticides to avoid the potential for runoff, leaching, or drift.
9.1 Pesticide Regulations
The New York State Environmental Conservation Law Article 33, establishes statutory authority to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to regulate pesticides and pesticide use.
9.1.1 Certified Applicators and Technicians
The law requires commercial applicators and technicians applying pesticides to golf course turf to be certified in categories 3A (ornamentals, shade trees, and turf) or 3B (turf only). Commercial applicators must meet requirements in continuing education credits. Special supervisory restrictions apply to technicians and apprentices.
When chemical controls are to be used, only pesticides registered for use in New York State are permitted. A searchable database of registered pesticides is maintained in the New York State Pesticide Administration Database (NYSPAD).
9.1.3 Pesticide Reporting Law
Applicators are required to file an annual report by February 1 each year summarizing their pesticide applications from the previous calendar year. These applicator reports are compiled each year in a summary report on sales and use around the state. NYSDEC is also monitoring water quality reports to assess pesticide levels in high-risk watersheds, aquifers, and wells across the state.
9.1.4 Neighbor Notification
The Environmental Conservation Law was amended to include the Neighbor Notification Law requiring a 48-hour notice to adjoining property owners prior to pesticide application. However, the requirement is only effective for counties that adopt the requirements into local ordinances; golf courses and sod farms are specifically exempted. Registered businesses should check with county officials or regional NYSDEC offices to see if specific local requirements apply.
9.1.5 Pesticide Transport
Off-property transport of pesticides must comply with New York State Department of Transportation regulations. Regulations require that the driver be trained for hazardous material transport. Drivers are required to carry the pesticide label and SDS sheet, have sufficient knowledge to handle any spills, and communicate with emergency responders in case of spills. Pesticides transported off the property that are not in the manufacturer’s original container with the original intact label affixed or stored in a sprayer tank must be labeled with basic pesticide information, as required under the Environmental Conservation Law.
9.1.6 Aquatic Pesticide Applications
The application of any pesticide to water, such as an aquatic herbicide used to control vegetation in golf course ponds, or any mosquito or other insect-related pesticide applied to water, must be covered under a SPDES Pesticide General Permit. In addition, ECL Article 15 states that an Aquatic Pesticide Permit is required for the direct application of an aquatic pesticide to surface waters of the State of an acre or more in size.
9.1.7 Additional Information
For more information on pesticide regulations and guidelines, see:
- NY Pesticide Business Registration
- Pesticides Registered in NY
- NY Pesticide Reporting Law
- NYSDEC Pesticide Storage Guidelines
- NYSDEC Policies on Backflow Prevention Devices
- SPDES General Pesticide Permits
- Clean Sweep NY
9.2 Pesticide Storage
Storage and handling of pesticides in their concentrated form poses the highest potential risk to groundwater or surface water. For this reason, it is essential that facilities for storing and handling these products be properly sited, designed, constructed, and operated. In addition, storing large quantities of pesticides for long periods of time should be avoided. Adopting a “first in-first out” management system for pesticide purchase and storage helps to avoid a buildup of large quantities of chemicals.
All pesticides should be stored according to instructions on their labels. In addition to the label, Part 326.11 of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations states: “No person shall store any restricted pesticide or empty containers thereof in such a manner as may be injurious to human, plant or animal life or to property or which unreasonably interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property throughout such areas of the State as shall be affected thereby.”
Guidelines for chemical storage, including pesticide storage, are listed on the NYS BMP Chemical Storage web page and in the “Maintenance Operations” chapter of this document.
9.3 Mixing and Loading
Mixing should be avoided in areas where a spill, a leak or overflow could allow pesticides to get into water systems, such as near drinking water supplies or near surface water. No pesticide application equipment or mix tank should be filled directly from any source waters unless a back siphon prevention device is present. Mixing should not occur on gravel or other surfaces that allow spills to move quickly through the soil. Personnel should use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) as described on the pesticide label when mixing and loading pesticides.
All transfers of pesticides between containers, including mixing, loading, and equipment cleaning, should be conducted over a spill containment surface designed to intercept, retain, and recover spillage, leakage, and washwater. Containment needs depend on the quantities of pesticides that are being mixed and loaded but should be sufficient to contain any incidental spills.
Proper cleaning of equipment helps prevent residues from reaching surface water, groundwater, drainage pipes, or storm sewers. For equipment with pesticide residues, washing and rinsing of any equipment with pesticide residues should occur on a pad. Captured washwater can be used as a dilute pesticide per label, or it may be pumped into a rinsate storage tank for use in the next application and used as a dilute pesticide per the label.
For more information on pesticide equipment cleaning, see the following:
Play it Safe: Clean Your Sprayer Equipment Before and After Each Use, Penn State University
- Maintenance, Cleaning and Storage of Ground Sprayers, Montana State University
9.5 Pesticide Applications
Golf course monitoring programs conducted in New York and several other states have indicated little to no risk of water contamination from pesticides properly applied to golf turf, as described in Appendix B of Best Management Practices of New York State Golf Courses. The application of pesticides is generally made with low concentrations of active ingredients, often between 1% and 5% solutions. Simple attention to proper application procedures, especially avoiding direct discharges into waterbodies or near wellheads, should typically suffice.
In addition to selecting an appropriate pesticide based on the selection criteria and evaluated using available tools, a number of factors should be considered when applying pesticides to avoid water quality impacts. For example, a number of site-specific considerations for the use of pesticides should be evaluated using the results from the site analysis to identify areas where the risks of pesticides reaching surface or groundwater are greater (such as steep slopes, shallow water tables, and areas with frequently wet soils). In addition, pesticides should be applied accurately and with care to avoid conditions that can increase the chances of runoff, leaching, and drift.
Table 6. Factors contributing to greater risk for groundwater and surface water contamination. Source: USGA 1995
|Porous soil (sand)
|Shallow water table
|Low soil adsorption
|Low organic matter
|Long half-life (persistent)
|Near surface water
|Frequently wet soils
9.5.1 Preventing Runoff and Leaching
Pesticides can be transported into water by several means:
- surface runoff following precipitation events or irrigation
- leaching through the soil horizon to reach groundwater
- adsorption on eroded soil that reaches surface water
- flowing directly to groundwater through sinkholes and permeable rock
The use of vegetated buffers may be the single most important strategy mitigating the impact of runoff as these buffers can “capture” pesticides and prevent them from reaching waterways. In addition, the timing and location of applications should be thoroughly evaluated. Preventing runoff and leaching of pesticides is heavily influenced by weather and irrigation scheduling. Pesticide applications followed by heavy rain or irrigation can cause the pesticides to leach into groundwater. This leaching can occur even for nonpersistent pesticides (those with a short half-life). Pesticide applications on saturated soils following heavy rain or irrigation can also lead to surface runoff. In addition, avoid applying pesticides in sensitive areas.
9.5.2 Preventing Drift
Drift can potentially cause water quality impacts, damage to susceptible non-target crops, and a lower than intended rate to the turfgrass, thus reducing the effectiveness of the pesticide. Two types of drift occur: airborne (spray) drift and vapor drift. Spray drift is influenced by many interrelated factors including droplet size, nozzle type and size, sprayer design, weather conditions, and the operator. The amount of vapor drift depends upon a pesticide’s volatility and atmospheric conditions such as humidity and temperature. Volatile turfgrass pesticides should be avoided. In some cases, the pesticide label may indicate low volatility. Low volatility, however, does not mean that a chemical will not volatilize under conducive conditions, such as high temperatures or low relative humidity. For more information, see Appendix H: Preventing Drift in Best Management Practices of New York State Golf Courses.
There is usually no safe and legal way to dispose of pesticide leftover from professional applications. Therefore, all of the chemical must be used according to directions on the label. This includes washwater from pesticide equipment washing, which must be used in accordance with the label instructions.
Often pesticide storage facilities accumulate unusable or unwanted pesticide products. They can accumulate for a variety of reasons, such as mistakes made in calculating the amount of product needed or the launch of new product chemistries that may be more effective at controlling target pests. Disposing of these stockpiles properly may be challenging. Simply keeping them in storage eventually becomes problematic when packaging inevitably deteriorates or corrodes and creates a hazard. CleanSweepNY provides disposal services for unusable pesticides and other chemical wastes. Collection dates are scheduled and organized by NYSDEC with the collaboration of the New York State Department of Transportation.
9.7 Pesticide Container Management
Handling of empty pesticide containers must be done in accordance with label directions as well as with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a pesticide container is not empty until it has been properly rinsed. However, pesticide containers that have been properly rinsed can be handled and disposed of as non-hazardous solid waste. Federal law (FIFRA) and state law require pesticide applicators to rinse all empty pesticide containers before taking other container disposal steps. For more information on proper pesticide container disposal procedures, see Pesticide Information Leaflet No. 13: Disposal of Pesticide Containers, University of Maryland Extension.
After following proper procedures (such as pressure rinsing, triple rinsing, puncturing, etc.), pesticide containers be either recycled through an approved program or disposed of by depositing them in a licensed sanitary landfill. The Ag Container Recycling Council (ACRC), provides an empty pesticide container recycling program in New York.
9.8 Pesticide Management Best Management Practices
Pesticide Storage and Handling
- Use electronic or hard-copy forms and software tools to properly track pesticide inventory.
- Keep and maintain records of all pesticides used in order to meet legal reporting requirements.
- Follow pesticide labels for appropriate PPE.
- Provide adequate PPE for all employees who work with pesticides, including equipment technicians who service pesticide application equipment.
- Ensure that PPE is sized appropriately for each person using it.
- Ensure that respirators are seal- and fit-tested properly and the person is thoroughly trained and has no medical limitations to respirator use.
- Store PPE where it is easily accessible, but not in the pesticide storage area.
- Forbid employees who apply pesticides from wearing facility uniforms home by providing laundering facilities or a uniform service.
- Meet requirements for the OSHA 1910.134 Respiratory Protection Program.
- Do not transport pesticides in the passenger section of a vehicle.
- Never leave pesticides unattended during transport.
- Maintain an inventory of all pesticides used and the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical.
- Avoid purchasing large quantities of pesticides that require storage for more than six months.
- Adopt the “first in-first out” principle, using the oldest products first to ensure that the product shelf life does not expire.
- Locate pesticide storage facilities away from other structures to allow fire department access.
- Store, mix, and load pesticides away from sites that directly link to surface water or groundwater (e.g. wells).
- Store pesticides in a lockable concrete or metal building separate from other buildings.
- Shelving should be made of sturdy plastic or reinforced metal.
- Metal shelving should be kept painted to avoid corrosion. Wood shelving should never be used, because it may absorb spilled pesticides.
- When storing pesticides on shelves, place liquid pesticides on lower shelves and dry formulations above them.
- Store herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides in separate areas within the storage unit.
- Storage facility floors should be impervious and sealed with a chemical-resistant paint.
- Floors should have a continuous sill to retain spilled materials and should not have drains, although a sump may be included.
- Sloped ramps should be provided at the entrance to allow the use of wheeled handcarts for moving material in and out of the storage area safely.
- Automatic exhaust fans and an emergency wash area should be provided. Light and fan switches should be located outside the building, so that both can be turned on before employees enter the building and turned off after they leave the building.
- Avoid temperature extremes inside the pesticide storage facility.
- Annually review pesticide inventories and properly dispose of unusable and unwanted pesticides.
Mixing and Loading
- Follow secondary containment requirements as required.
- Load and mix pesticides over an impermeable surface, such as a concrete pad.
- Mix pesticides at least 150 feet downslope from any well.
- Mix materials according to label directions and in amounts that will be used for the application to avoid excess that will need disposal.
- Either use anti-backflow devices when mixing pesticides or maintain a 6″ air gap between mixing container and water source.
- Pump the sump dry and then clean it at the end of each day. Liquids and sediments should also be removed from the sump and the pad whenever pesticide materials are changed to an incompatible product (i.e. one that cannot be legally applied to the same site).
- Collect washwater (from both inside and outside the application equipment) and use it as a pesticide in accordance with the label instructions.
- The rinsate may be applied as a pesticide (preferred) or stored for use for the next compatible application.
- Identify any areas on the course prone to leaching losses (e.g. shallow water tables, sand-based putting greens, coarse-textured soils, etc.) and do not use highly soluble pesticides in these areas.
- If listed species or species of concern are present, specifically select pesticides that have no known effects on these species.
- Check the forecast before applying pesticides and apply when conditions are favorable, such as minimal wind velocity, temperature inversions not forecast, rain not forecast, etc.
- Follow the pesticide label to avoid drift.
- Use spray additives within label guidelines.
- Schedule the timing and amount of irrigation needed to water-in products (unless otherwise indicated on label) without over-irrigating.
- If sites adjacent to the application area are planted with susceptible plants or crops, allow a buffer area between the two, or wait until winds are blowing away from the area of concern.
- Follow the pesticide label for re-entry period requirements or recommendations following applications.
- Allow all pesticide applications to dry thoroughly before allowing play to resume.
- Use an appropriately sized applicator for the size of area being treated.
- Ensure the spray technician is experienced, certified, and properly trained.
- Properly calibrate all application equipment at the beginning of each season (at a minimum) or after equipment modifications.
- Check pesticide application equipment daily when in use.
- Use recommended spray volumes for the targeted pest to maximize efficacy.
- Calibrate walk-behind applicators for each person making the application to take into consideration walking speed, etc.
- Avoid high spray boom pressures; consider 45 PSI a maximum for conventional broadcast ground spraying.
- Use drift-reduction nozzles that produce larger droplets when operated at low pressures.
- Use wide-angle nozzles and low boom heights and keep boom stable.
- When possible, use lower application speeds to avoid drift.
- Dispose of unused pesticides properly. See CleanSweepNY for collection days.
Pesticide Container Management
- Rinse pesticide containers immediately in order to remove the most residue.
- Rinse containers during the mixing and loading process and add rinsate water to the finished spray mix.
- Rinse emptied pesticide containers by either triple rinsing or pressure rinsing.
- Use refillable containers only for pesticides.
- Recycle non-refillable containers when possible.
- Puncture empty and rinsed pesticide containers prior to disposal and dispose of them according to the label.