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Agriculture & Natural Resources Updates for Fannin & Gilmer Counties

Now that the cooler weather is setting in and the time has rolled back an hour, home gardeners are finally starting to get some relief from the intense pest and disease pressure we’ve faced from an incredibly rainy growing season.

Generally, this time of year home gardeners are winding down from an active growing season, and there is more time to focus on organizing the storage shed and getting things in order. The off-season is a good time to check and see what pesticides you have, and decide whether to keep them until next year or properly dispose of them.

Even if not applying pesticides, we must always be careful when handling any pesticide product. Below are some tips from the Georgia Department of Agriculture and UGA Extension that should help you determine the best course of action so you may safely dispose of a home pesticide product.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division allows disposal of small quantities of pesticides in any sanitary landfill, as long as they are properly prepared. This means that for a home gardener, if any dust and granule containers have less than two pounds of product each, and any liquid concentrates are less than one gallon each, you may dispose of the pesticides in the garbage after completing the preparation process.

The preparation for safe pesticide disposal is fairly straightforward:

  • For wettable powders or dusts, triple bag the pesticide container in heavy duty plastic bags, and put them in the garbage.
  • Solidify any liquid pesticides or fertilizers by pouring them into a sealable container of kitty litter or oil-dry clay granules.
  • Wrap empty glass containers with several layers of newspaper before triple-bagging.
  • ALWAYS wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and eye protection when disposing of pesticides.

You will need to clean empty containers by rinsing three times as soon as it is empty.  If pesticide residues dry, the container can never be cleaned enough for recycling. If the rinse liquid cannot be sprayed as recommended on the label, then the dilute material must be disposed of by absorbing in cat litter or some other absorbent material. The material must then be triple bagged in heavy duty plastic bags and placed in the garbage.

Another approach to safely disposing of pesticides is by using them on the site mentioned on the label. Even if the pest(s) are no longer present, you may legally use a product in the area where they used to appear. This is a good technique to use up a last bit of weed killer at the end of the summer. Simply spray it on your lawn at the recommended rate.

Another thing to consider is the lifespan of the product, as sometimes pesticides will deteriorate in storage. The pesticide label will tell you the proper storage conditions.  Temperature extremes, such as heat, cold and light may cause a chemical to change or to become ineffective.

For example, when I was helping my father clean out his shed a year ago, we found a two-gallon container of Roundup™. Since privet and poison ivy are a persistent issue for my parents, I tested the chemical on a patch of poison ivy to be sure it was effective (it was) before putting it in my shed for future use.

Proper storage is essential, regardless of what type or how much of a pesticide you may have. The ideal place for pesticides is in a locked cabinet. If you do not have a lockable storage closet, then consider buying a large plastic tub with a tightly fitting lid. Label the container and place it on a shelf above the reach of children. Liquid chemicals should always be stored in a liquid-proof container. Never store pesticides out of their original container – especially not in food or drink containers.

All pesticide containers are required to display a “signal word” like Danger (highly toxic), Warning (moderately toxic) or Caution (slightly toxic). Always read the label to determine if protective clothing should be worn or other precautions taken.

When it comes to pest management, you may think that “If one tablespoon is recommended, then two tablespoons will get the job done better and faster!” Please, heed my warning when I state this is just not true. The label is the law! This means that it is illegal to mix more than the maximum labeled amount or to use it in a manner that is in any way inconsistent with the label.

Given the importance of the label, one should never use a pesticide that has lost its label. Even if you think you remember what’s inside, most manufacturers use similar containers for all of their products. It is no fun discovering that you sprayed weed killer on your roses. If one of your product’s label is giving you grief, simply use a rubber band to keep your poorly-behaved labels folded in place on bottled products.

Lastly, when in doubt give us a call at the Extension office. We’re happy to provide you with some additional information on safe pesticide storage and disposal.

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