Advantage Good Agricultural Practices Example

Pesticide use on a ready-to-eat vegetable operation (Good Agricultural Practice 8.2)


Consider this scenario:

  • Family run vegetable growing operation
  • Employs migrant seasonal workers
  • Farm gate sales, farmers markets and to auction
  • Only one person on the farm is trained in pesticide application and holds a valid Grower Pesticide Safety Course certificate

Common Food Safety Risks for this scenario:

If improperly used, pesticides may contaminate the environment or leave potentially harmful residues on vegetables.

Chemical Hazards:

Used properly, pesticides are safe. Improper use can lead to unacceptable residues and/or a potential chemical hazard. If pesticides are applied incorrectly to a crop, unacceptable residues may occur. The Pre-Harvest Interval (PHI) for a pesticide needs to be adhered to in order to avoid exceeding residue limits. Pesticides should only be applied under certain weather conditions to avoid leaching or drifting of the pesticide into the ground or other crops. Spills need to be dealt with by an appropriate method so as to not contaminate the environment or produce. This would include inadvertently spilling or wiping of pesticide on clothing which could then be transferred to fresh produce while handling.

How Good Agricultural Practices can help:

Keeping the identified risks in mind, the following questions would assist this grower in establishing good pesticide use for his vegetable operation.

If you encounter times when you need to apply pesticides but the one certified individual on your farm is unavailable, remember that a chemical risk can occur if pesticides are handled or applied incorrectly.

You should:

  • Ensure that anyone applying a pesticide has a Growers Pesticide Safety Course certificate or licence
  • Consider using a licensed custom applicator or having someone else trained as an assistant who can work under your supervision

If you apply pesticides to crops adjacent to your neighbours field there is a chemical risk associated with improper application.

You should:

  • Ensure that you apply only in proper weather conditions to avoid drifting of pesticides which can result in the under application on your field and potentially unwanted application on your neighbours
  • Develop a written practice that clearly states what proper weather conditions are

If you apply pesticides to crops close to harvest time remember that a chemical risk is associated with residue levels that exceed the maximum limit if the pre-harvest interval is not followed.

You should:

  • Develop a written practice which states the PHI for all the pesticides in use on your operation.
  • The practice should also include a system to keep track of when a pesticide has been applied and when the crop can be harvested
  • If crops are harvested before the PHI time, don't let any persons or animals eat the produce until an agricultural specialist has been consulted

If you would like to move towards using less pesticides in your operation due to the chemical risk of using pesticides,

You should:

  • Consider starting an Integrated Pest Management program

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: FoodSafety@ontario.ca


Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 15 March 2009
Last Reviewed: 15 June 2011