Safe use of pesticides in conservation agriculture
By Samwel Nyaga
Safe use of pesticides is important, as incorrect use can be very hazardous. Speaking during a six days Conservation Agriculture Training of Trainer (TOT) course held on August 24-29, 2015 at Olympia Hotel in Nyahururu, Mr. Gichuki Hutu, Laikipia West Master Trainer said that farmers should use the least toxic pesticide available for pest control.
He said that pesticides use should be in accordance with registered labels and that it is necessary to read and apply the information supplied in the label. He noted that target organisms determine the use of insecticides, fungicides, or herbicides.
The County Government of Laikipia in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations organized the six days course.
He said that pesticides could enter the body through skin, mouth, and nose when being used. Major risk areas include: the risk to a person, property and the environment by accidental events such as spillage or fire; daily chemical exposure at the workplace; and chemical exposure through spray drift.
He urged farmers to seek for advice from extension officers on required amount of pesticides, pest identification, application rates, post-harvest interval, and affected crops.
Purchase of pesticides should be at registered agrochemical companies and approved stockists. They should be in original pack and not in damaged or leaking containers. The labels should be clear and the quantity should be for only a season.
Farmers should avoid transporting food, water, animal feed or other reactive hazardous substances with pesticides. Also, secure hazardous substances to ensure they do not fall during transportation.
“Use of protective clothing to cover pesticide entry into the body is important. Selection of spraying equipment’s is also important and they should not leak,” said Mr. Hutu.
He said that farmers should wear protective equipment to prevent skin contact and splashes during clean up. Separate washing of work and domestic clothes is equally important.
“Thoroughly clean all spraying and protective equipment where run-off will not contaminate the environment or create a hazard. You also need to wash yourself well,” said Mr. Hutu.
He urged farmers to store pesticides under lock and key. They should never be stored with foodstuffs or in living quarters. Ventilation in the store is also important and it should have fire-fighting equipment. Water and saw dust should always be near the store.
Simple sprayer calibration can help to avoid contamination of water or contact on the body while spraying as it reduces spray drift and enables preparation of enough pesticide for immediate use only.
Areas that need consideration during spraying are nozzle position in relation to contact target, time of spraying and wind or drift. Use of correct filters, pesticide formulation, and ensuring that water and equipment are clean can prevent nozzle blockage.
Other issues that farmers need to consider during spraying include: never sucking or blowing blocked nozzles to clear them; not pouring concentrated pesticides into tanks above shoulder height; and maintaining nozzles, hoses, regulator gauges and cartridges for respirators.
Others include: covering feed and water containers near areas where livestock are grazing; and observing strict re-entry periods where contact with foliage and skin is unavoidable.
“Follow advice on disposal of pesticides written on the labels. This is important in ensuring recommended disposal methods. Rinse empty containers to remove all traces of pesticide before disposal,” said Mr. Hutu.
Burning or burying away the containers from water resources are common disposal methods. Ventilated areas away from people, animals, dwellings, or crops are ideal locations for incinerating spilt products.
He said that it is important to take precautionary measures while handling pesticides. The first aid kit should contain a towel, clean clothing, an approved resuscitation mask for expired air resuscitation, disposable eyewash bottle and eyewash solution, soap, nail brush, and clear instructions on what to do with all this equipment.