By Ajia Paolillo and Lourdes Pérez Cordero
If you use herbicides containing paraquat dichloride in your citrus groves, it is important that you are aware of the use certification requirements for this product. In 2016, certification and training for the use of this pesticide were put into place in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) risk mitigation requirements. Any person that uses paraquat must meet these requirements.
The first requirement is that any person using paraquat must be a certified pesticide applicator, meaning they possess their own restricted-use pesticide license. Earn continuing education units toward the Florida restricted-use pesticide license here. Unlike other pesticides, workers cannot use, handle or apply paraquat dichloride while operating under their supervisor’s license. Furthermore, users must also receive a separate certification, indicating that they passed an EPA-approved paraquat training course. This training requirement is listed on the product label.
The EPA’s website identifies those who need to take the training as follows: “Any person who intends to use paraquat must be a certified applicator and is required to take the training. ‘Use’ includes pre-application activities involving mixing and loading the pesticide; applying the pesticide; and other pesticide-related activities, including, but not limited to, transporting or storing opened pesticide containers, cleaning equipment, and disposing of excess pesticides, spray mix, equipment wash waters, pesticide containers, and other paraquat-containing materials.”
Restricted-use pesticide licenses are renewed every four years. However, paraquat training certification needs to be completed at a minimum of every three years.
For initial training or recertification, use this link for the Extension Foundation website. You will need to create an account if this is your first time taking the training. Or you can log into your account for recertification. This free online training includes a certificate upon completion of the test at the end of the module. Keep a copy of your certificate, as you may be asked to show it during a regulatory inspection.
If you prefer to take in-person classes, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension will be offering in-person paraquat training beginning next year. The materials utilized for the training will be EPA-approved. Stay tuned for the registration instructions and upcoming training dates for 2023.
Ajia Paolillo is a UF/IFAS multi-county citrus agent based in Arcadia. Lourdes Pérez Cordero is a UF/IFAS agriculture and natural resources Extension agent in Highlands County.
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