Before the growing season begins, thousands of farmers are trained in pesticide safety.
This year, over 5,400 farmers completed the Grower Pesticide Safety Course offered by the Ontario Pesticide Education Program at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus. Another 200 Ontario vendors also passed the Pesticide Vendor Certification Course.
The courses have been offered for nearly 25 years and growers continue to return to see what’s new in pesticide safety. The courses focus on topics such as product information, health and environmental risk management, pesticide application and pesticide safety practices.
Even though they could simply write the two-hour exam to achieve certification, over 80% of growers choose to take the full day in-class or on-line course. As long-time in-class and now on-line instructor, Ernie Konrad states: “Farmers used to complain about having to come to these courses, but I don’t hear that now. They see the value of the information presented and know how important pesticide safety is to their business.”
Safety is a top priority in ag retail too. Over 50 ag retail businesses host the in-class courses at their locations across the province.
Susan Kelner, OPEP Coordinator notes that “it is the support of our ag retail sponsors, as well as the corporate sponsors which have helped keep the participant cost for each course low. This past year, we’ve had BASF, Dow AgroSciences, N.M. Bartlett, Monsanto, FMC,Engage Agro and Cheminova help to promote pesticide stewardship and safety.”
Grower and vendor pesticide safety courses continue to be offered all year. A full listing of in-class and on-line courses is on opep.ca, or call 1-800-652-8573.