Pesticide Use

If improperly used, products used to control pests in the field can contaminate the environment or leave potentially harmful residues on the crop.

This Good Agricultural Practice applies to:

All farms that apply pesticides, including products used in organic production.

What needs to be done

Make sure pesticides are used properly and, if required, applied by someone who holds a valid Grower Pesticide Safety Course certificate or licence.

How to do it

Check the label

Use only pesticide products registered for use in Canada.

Use only on crops specified and for weeds or pests indicated on the label.

Read and follow all label directions. Even if the product has been on the market for years, application rates and usage information may change.

Apply pesticides appropriately

Make sure applications are done by a certified grower, a licensed custom applicator or a trained assistant supervised by a certified grower.

Apply pesticides under the right environmental conditions to reduce the possibility of spray drift, run-off or leaching that may contaminate other crops. Check the product label for details.

Maintain and calibrate the application equipment to deliver the correct rate.

Double-check calculations to make sure the application rate is correct according to the rate given on the label.

Clean and rinse equipment using the manufacturer's recommended procedures between applications to prevent carry over and contamination.

Follow the pre-harvest interval (PHI) and the pre-grazing interval (PGI) requirements on the label. This ensures that no produce is harvested and that no animals graze on a treated field until the legal number of days after the application has passed. Failure to wait may result in residues exceeding the maximum residue limit in the crop or contamination of the milk and/or meat.

In the event that harvesting or grazing occurred before the PHI or PGI, segregate the product.

In general

If there are concerns about residues, hold or separate the product and discuss options with a provincial and/or federal agricultural specialist.

Terms used in this Good Agricultural Practice

Integrated Pest Management (IPM): The process of planning and taking steps that will prevent or control pests.

Pest Control Product Number (PCP#): A Pest Control Product Act registration number that shows that the product has been registered by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). All pesticides registered under the federal Pest Control Product Act must be classified by Ontario's Pesticide Advisory Committee before they can be offered for sale or used in Ontario.

Pre-Grazing Interval (PGI): The amount of time that must pass between the application of pesticides to a crop and the grazing of animals on that crop.

Pre-Harvest Interval (PHI): The amount of time that must pass between the application of pesticides to a crop and the harvesting of that crop.

Records to keep

Pesticide Use Record. We have provided a record template for your use in the Training and Support Tools section. A printable version is also available. Or keep your own record that includes:

  • Application date
  • Chemical applied (with PCP#)
  • Rate applied
  • Weather conditions (e.g. temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction)
  • Crop and stage of growth
  • Target pest(s)
  • Field identification, location and size
  • Earliest possible harvest/grazing date
  • Date of harvest/grazing
  • Initials (and certification number if contracted out) of applicator

Important numbers

Ontario Pesticide Education Program: 1-800-652-8573
Agricultural Information Contact Centre: 1-877-424-1300
Poison Control Centre: 1-800-268-9017

Did you know?

IPM programs can help you:

  • Reduce pesticide use
  • Recognize conditions that could lead to pest problems
  • Prevent pest problems from starting
  • Produce long-term solutions to pest problems

If you need an audit:

Be prepared for the auditor to review:

  • Pesticide Use Records
  • A valid Grower's Pesticide Safety Course certificate and/or licence

Laws and regulations that apply:

All pesticides used on-farm should be authorized for agricultural production, approved under various federal and provincial laws, not prohibited under these laws or regulations, and sold in accordance with these laws. The laws include the Pest Control Products Act (Canada), R.S. c. P-9 and requirements of the Pesticides Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P. 11 and R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 914.

Pesticides must not cause contamination of foods that are listed in the Food and Drugs Act (Canada), R.S. 1985, c. F-27, Food and Drug Regulations, Division 15. Under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001, Meat Regulations, food animals are contaminated by definition if they contain or have been treated or exposed to a substance not permitted by, or in an amount in excess of limits prescribed under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (Canada), the Food and Drugs Act (Canada) or the Pest Control Products Act (Canada).

The pesticide product label is a legal document that specifies restrictions on its use, such as withdrawal periods, re-entry requirements, days to harvest, protective equipment, and the effect of environmental conditions that must be observed. The Pest Control Products Regulations (Canada), C.R.C., c. 1253, s. 45 (1) specifies that no person shall use a control product in a manner that is inconsistent with the directions or limitations respecting its use shown on the label, while (2) specifies that no person shall use a pest control product imported for the importer's own use in a manner that is inconsistent with the conditions set forth on the importer's declaration respecting the pest control product. Similarly, the Pesticides Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.11, Regulation 914, R.R.O. 1990, s. 22 (2) specifies that no person shall use a pesticide except in accordance with the label for that pesticide or this Regulation.

The Pest Control Products Act (Canada), R.S., c. P-9, s. 4 prohibits the manufacture, storage, display, distribution or use of pest control products under unsafe conditions or contrary to the regulations. Certain pesticides may be prohibited under any circumstances. For example, the Pesticides Act, R.S.O. 1990, Reg. 914, s. 62 prohibits use, storage or disposal of a pesticide that contains aldrin, chlordane, chlordecone, dichlorodiphenyltri-chloroethane (DDT), dieldrin or endrin. S. 64 to 79 of Regulation 914 set out requirements for notification and posting when pesticides are used.

Other legislation to be aware of:

When a farmer suffers a loss as a result of pesticide residue in or on an agricultural product as determined by an inspection, the farmer may receive compensation under the Pesticide Residue Compensation Act, R.S. 1985, c. P-10. He or she may also be compensated if the product used was one registered under the Pest Control Products Act or deemed to be, if it was used in accordance with recommendations, and if and the presence of the pesticide residue is not due to any fault of the farmer or the farmer's employees or the farm's previous owner.

To the extent that pest control products are toxic or hazardous, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1990, c. O. 1, s. 26 [as of June 30, 2006 - see O. Reg. 414/05 Farming Operations] will require training of staff in their safe use, WHMIS and MSDS.

Did you know?

More than 27,000 Ontario farmers are trained in pesticide application and safety through the Ontario Pesticide Education Program.

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For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 27 May 2009
Last Reviewed: 27 July 2017