Herbicides are crucial for weed management and enable Canadian farmers to maintain healthy and productive crops. However, safe handling of herbicides is essential. Here are some quick reminders for the busy spring season.

Always read and follow label directions

Before utilizing any herbicide, always read and understand the information provided on the herbicide label.

Herbicide labels contain vital instructions regarding proper handling, application rates, safety precautions, and environmental considerations.  This information is essential to ensure safe and effective herbicide use.

A herbicide product label is classed as a legal document that must be followed, meaning products should not be used in any other way than outlined on the label.

For example, herbicides like GoldWing herbicide and Bifecta herbicide will have application rates and mixing instructions on the label. Product labels may get updated over time, with new tank-mix partners or rate range information.

Use proper personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment minimizes the risk of herbicide exposure. When handling herbicides, farmers should wear appropriate PPE, including protective clothing (such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and chemical-resistant gloves), eye protection (safety glasses or goggles), respiratory protection (such as a respirator), and sturdy footwear. The selection of PPE should be based on the specific hazards associated with the herbicide being used, as indicated on the label and SDS. Properly fitting and maintained PPE is essential to provide adequate protection against herbicide exposure.

PPE acts as a barrier against exposure, reducing the likelihood of skin irritation, respiratory issues, and long-term health complications. Proper PPE usage is essential for safeguarding the health and safety of oneself and workers.

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Minimize risk during herbicide preparation and application

Always take precautions to minimize the risk of accidental exposure and contamination during herbicide preparation. This can include preparing herbicide solutions in well-ventilated areas away from sensitive areas like water sources and homes. Users should measure and mix herbicides according to label instructions, avoiding spills and splashes.

Dedicated equipment should be used for herbicide mixing and application to prevent cross-contamination with other agricultural inputs. Any spills or leaks should be promptly cleaned up using appropriate containment and cleanup procedures to prevent personal and environmental contamination.

Employ techniques to prevent exposure and minimize the risk of drift and off-target contamination when applying herbicides. This includes selecting appropriate application equipment and ensuring it is calibrated properly for the herbicide. Farmers should pay attention to weather conditions, such as wind speed and direction, avoid spraying during periods of high wind that may cause herbicide drift. Establishing buffer zones around sensitive areas and adjusting spray equipment will prevent unintended exposure and minimize spray drift. Proper rinsing of equipment and disposal is essential to prevent contamination on farm and ensure a clean sprayer for future applications.

Properly store herbicides and empty containers

Safe storage of herbicides prevent accidents, spills, and unauthorized access. Herbicides should be stored in their original containers in a designated storage area that is secure, and inaccessible to children, pets and unauthorized individuals. The storage area should be equipped with secondary containment measures, such as spill containment pallets, to prevent leaks and spills from contaminating the area.

Dispose unwanted herbicides and contaminated materials

Proper disposal of unwanted herbicides and contaminated materials is essential. Farmers should follow local regulations and guidelines for the disposal of herbicides, empty containers and broken application equipment. This may include participating in collection programs or utilizing authorized disposal facilities. Empty herbicide containers should be triple-rinsed and punctured to prevent reuse and then disposed of according to local regulations or recycling programs.

To learn more about recycling programs in your area, click here

Proper herbicide use allows for effective weed control, the safety of applicators, and the longevity of these vital tools to Canadian farmers.