2013 Bureau of Agrichemical Management Annual Report

​​​​Pesticide UsePesticide use program highlights 2013

Pesticide products registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must also adhere to Wisconsin’s law on labeling directions including product storage, handling and use. Many of the Investigation and Compliance Section’s activities are inspections of these practices and their associated records, as well as investigations of potential violations of the general label provisions or specific prohibitions contained in ch. ATCP 29, Wis. Adm. Code​, and ch. ATCP 30, Wis. Adm. Code​. 

ATCP 29 Pesticide Use and Control Rule Revision

The revisions to ch. ATCP 29, Wis. Adm. Code, which began in 2008, took effect on June 1, 2013. The final rule incorporated changes based on public comments received during the two public hearings and the public comment period held during 2012. The revisions to ATCP 29 include: expanding a pesticide applicator certification category to include applications to natural areas, electronic communications, making ATCP 29 consistent with department fertilizer and pesticide storage rules, adding new residential chemigation requirements and updates related to structural applications. After the rule took effect, the department provided outreach and compliance assistance to help industry and the public understand and implement the new rule requirements.

Implementation of Soil Fumigant Label Requirements

In 2013, the Phase 2 label changes went into effect and included buffer zones.  Staff continued to work with pesticide applicators, crop growers, and others to address questions about EPA’s new label requirements for certain soil fumigants.  DATCP staff also gave presentations, developed and distributed outreach materials, conducted field use observations, and updated the department’s webpage to assist with the implementation of the Phase 2 label changes.

Pesticide Use Observations, Records Inspections and Investigations

Department field investigators completed a variety of inspections of pesticide users and investigations of pesticide misuse complaints. Inspection of sales and distribution records are done at businesses to determine if restricted-use pesticides are only being sold to certified pesticide applicators. Staff also evaluate the completeness of pesticide application records developed by individual commercial and private applicators, including the required pre-application information and posting requirements.  Investigators also observe pesticide use in a variety of agricultural and non-agricultural settings each year.

Every year the department receives complaints relating to pesticide use. All pesticide complaints received are evaluated. For some, the department initiates investigations to determine if improper use (misuse) of pesticides occurred.  Compliance activities resulting from 2013 pesticide use observations, records inspections and the 122 pesticide misuse investigations are discussed in the Compliance and Investigation section of the annual report.

Pesticide Use ObservationsList of common private pesticide applicator violations

DATCP staff observe pesticide applications made by business and agricultural producers every year. The intent of observing a broad spectrum of pesticide application types is 1) to help ensure applicators comply with federal and state requirements for pesticide use, and 2) to keep the department informed and up-to-date on changing pests, technologies and application practices. Through use observations, DATCP staff validate the proper use of products and required protection of persons and the environment. The observations also provide an opportunity to identify potential problems with the directions for use or sales/distribution practices. In 2013, DATCP used an updated inspection form to better address rule requirements and informational needs.

Agricultural Use Observations:  When a pesticide is applied to an agricultural commodity it is considered an agricultural use. During 2013, the department conducted 43 agricultural use observations. Staff focused primarily on products containing atrazine, soil fumigants, and pesticides used to treat seed. Agricultural pesticide use for honey production, ginseng and other crops were also observed. The department noted 22 violations associated with incomplete application records, negligent use of a pesticide and use of atrazine in an atrazine prohibition area.

Non-Agricultural Use Observations:  Non-Agricultural pesticide applications are made for reasons other than growing a crop; for example, to control bedbugs in a hospital. Staff completed 42 non-agricultural use observations in 2013. The department observed a variety of non-agricultural pesticide applications including those made to landscaped areas and right-of-ways, to the inside of structures, to protect wood, and to control aquatic vegetation and mosquitoes. Twenty violations were documented during these observations. The most common violation was incomplete pesticide application recordkeeping. Three observations identified uncertified or unlicensed individuals making pesticide applications.

Pesticide Special Registrations

A small number of pesticide products are authorized for special uses under sections 18 and 24(c​) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). These uses are otherwise not allowed by existing product registrations and labeling. In addition, EPA and/or DATCP may issue an experimental use permit that allows testing of pesticides.  Each year, staff perform use observations related to these time-limited special authorizations to help determine if the unique directions for use of each special authorization are being followed.  Numbers of observations, violations, and types of violations are included in the summaries for Agricultural and Non-Agricultural Use Observations. In 2013, DATCP staff determined that growers were still using products with expired labeling. In response, DATCP developed and distributed outreach to Wisconsin grower groups and business organizations to alert them of this issue. 

Private Applicator Records Inspection

Wisconsin requires a person who uses or directs the use of a restricted-use pesticide as an agricultural producer to become certified as a private pesticide applicator. Private applicators must maintain certain records related to the application of restricted-use pesticides.

In 2013, environmental enforcement staff completed 26 private applicator record inspections and found 50 total violations. Enforcement staff also provided instructions on applicator recordkeeping requirements at 17 private applicator training sessions offered by the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension. The training sessions reached 475 private applicators. The training sessions are an excellent opportunity for staff to reach a large number of private applicators. The sessions are also a chance to provide information on other important pesticide topics such as proper pesticide storage and disposal, spills and use of the herbicide atrazine. Violations are shared with UW Extension so future training sessions can emphasize problem areas.

Commercial Applicator Records Inspections

Businesses that contract for pesticide work are required to keep a record of each pesticide application for two years. Unlike private applicators, commercial applicator records are required for both general use and restricted use pesticides. During 2013, DATCP inspected application records at 53 businesses and documented approximately 90 violations. Business and commercial applicators most commonly fail to record all the elements required by law. Recordkeeping examples include failure to record the EPA registration number of the pesticide applied or not including the name of the applicator. Incomplete records often contribute to additional violations of the requirements to provide customer post application information. Failure to provide pre-application information to customers or to residents is another violation commonly noted during records inspections. Most of the remaining violations relate to post-application information provided to customers; for example, precautions necessary to protect public health not being identified. Staff also documented four violations where applicators and businesses did not have proper licensing. The department will work with industry associations in 2014 to remind businesses and applicators of recordkeeping requirements. 


The DriftWatch program was created to facilitate communication between specialty-crop growers and pesticide applicators. The goal is to raise awareness of specialty crops including bees, fruits and organic produce. Readily accessed information about sensitive crop locations is intended to help applicators make informed decisions regarding pesticide use near sensitive crops.

In 2013, DATCP used grant money to hire a DriftWatch coordinator for promoting the program and increasing the number of registered participants. The coordinator met face-to-face with producers and industry groups to encourage them to register for the program. Additionally, the program coordinator used email campaigns to a number of organizations and individuals (including organic farmers), farmers market managers, specialty-crop trade publications and organic certification agencies. They also reached out to pesticide applicators to encourage their participation in the program.

Wisconsin producers have registered 550 specialty-crop sites as well as 168 apiaries on DriftWatch. This is an 87 percent increase in the number of sites and a 190 percent increase in the number of apiaries from a year ago.  Additionally, 25 pesticide applicators signed up to receive access to view the DriftWatch maps.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an approach to pest control that relies on a combination of common sense practices for preventing and controlling pests and minimizing exposure to pesticides. For long-term pest control, it is essential to identify which pest is causing the problem and what caused the infestation to arise in the first place. Considerable effort is put toward preventing pest problems by controlling conditions that may attract and support pests (such as sources of food, water, and shelter).

The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program historically focused on implementing IPM in schools and other structural settings. In recent years, the focus has broadened to include both non-agricultural and, in limited cases, certain agricultural settings (such as Christmas tree production).  In general, the program typically defers to the expertise of University of Wisconsin faculty and staff for implementation of IPM in agricultural settings.  In 2013, program staff continued to respond to inquiries and gave a presentation on Wisconsin’s voluntary IPM program and pesticide use requirements for schools at the Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials Fall Conference.

Bed Bugs

The resurgence of bed bugs in recent years has continued throughout Wisconsin and the United States, infesting homes, apartments, hotels, retail stores, dormitories, offices, and even libraries. The program continues to respond to inquiries regarding management of bed bugs, including pesticide-related questions. During 2013, department staff observed structural pest control applications for bed bugs in Madison, Milwaukee and Green Bay. Potential misuse of pesticides related to bed bug control is an increasing national concern.  See the program’s bed bug webpages​ for more information.

Direction for the Coming Year

In addition to the routine pesticide recordkeeping and use observations, the pesticide program will focus on the following activities:

Soil Fumigants: DATCP staff will continue to work with pesticide applicators, crop growers, and others on implementing the Phase 2 label requirements, including live use observations.  

Use Observations: For 2014 the department will observe many different agricultural and non-agricultural pesticide applications. Focus areas will cover pesticide use related to the following sites and uses: aerial, forestry, fumigants, aquatic weed control, mosquito control, pollinator related, antimicrobials, rights of way and natural areas, bed bugs, schools, pesticide special registrations, and others. 

Outreach for revisions to ATCP 29: DATCP will continue assisting industry stakeholders and the public in understanding how the rule change impacts them. Outreach will also cover existing rule requirements where industry has lower than average compliance rates, such pesticide application recordkeeping. 

IPM: Staff will continue to present school IPM information and address inquiries related to IPM as needed. The primary goal is to update, reorganize, and develop new content for the program’s web pages related to IPM.

Endangered Species: The department will continue to assist with implementation of the Karner Blue Butterfly Habitat Conservation Plan, and will address other concerns as needed. 

Pesticide Special Registrations: DATCP will continue working with grower groups to educate them on the role of special registrations.

For more information about any of the bureau programs you may email the department.

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