UPPERCO, Md. — Farmers must go through a new step to protect endangered species before spraying common pesticides such as dicamba and 2,4-D.
If the pesticide label requires it, applicators must check an Environmental Protection Agency website to see if there are limitations on using that chemical in their area. It’s part of the agency’s expanding effort to define county or regional protections for the habitats of protected species.
Kurt Vollmer, a University of Maryland Extension weed management specialist, explained farmers' responsibility Dec. 1 at the Baltimore County crops day.
A pesticide's Endangered Species Act notice, if there is one, will appear on the first or second page of the label. The notice says farmers must obtain an EPA bulletin by going to epa.gov/endangered-species/bulletins-live-two-view-bulletins or calling 1-844-447-3813.
The website uses the farm’s location, month of planned application and registration number of the pesticide to produce the PDF bulletin.
The bulletin includes a map and describes the locally applicable restrictions, if there are any. Farmers may be able to choose from a list of mitigation practices, such as using no-till, reducing the number of applications, growing a cover crop, and maintaining a vegetative buffer.
In the Northeast, the bulletin website shows usage restrictions for certain dicamba formulations around Salem, New Jersey; Batavia and Syracuse, New York; Ravenna, Ohio; and Dinwiddie and Mecklenburg, Virginia.
Vollmer said he has seen endangered species language on atrazine and Enlist 2,4-D labels as well, though he’s not aware of any geographic restrictions for Maryland as yet.
The EPA continues to work on its list of geographic limitations, so to be current, farmers may obtain the bulletin no earlier than six months before using the product.