Agrichemical Management Bureau Annual Report

​​Pesticide Use

Pesticide products used in Wisconsin must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and users 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. 

Implementation of Soil Fumigant Label Requirements

Throughout 2014, staff continued to work with pesticide applicators, crop growers, and others to address questions about EPA’s new label requirements for certain soil fumigants that went into effect in 2013 during the implementation of the Phase 2 label changes. DATCP staff developed and distributed outreach materials, conducted field use observations, and updated the Department’s webpage to assist with the implementation of these changes, which included buffer zones, posting and other requirements. 

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 to customers. 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 2014 pesticide use observations, records inspections and the 82 pesticide misuse investigations are discussed in the Compliance and Investigation section of the annual report

Pesticide Use Observations 

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 to help ensure applicators comply with federal and state requirements for pesticide use, and 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. 

Agricultural Use Observations  When a pesticide is applied to an agricultural commodity it is considered an agricultural use. During 2014, the Department conducted 35 agricultural use observations. Staff focused primarily on products containing atrazine, soil fumigants, and pesticides used by aerial applicators. Agricultural pesticide use for honey production and other crops was also observed. The Department noted six violations associated with incomplete application records and information to customer and an application by an unlicensed applicator. 

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 43 non-agricultural use observations in 2014. The Department observed a variety of non-agricultural pesticide applications including those made to landscaped areas and rights-of-way, to the inside of structures, and to control aquatic vegetation and mosquitoes. Twenty six violations were documented during these observations. The most common violation was incomplete pesticide application recordkeeping. Two observations identified unlicensed individuals making pesticide applications. 

Pesticide Special Registration Observations   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.  

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 2014, environmental enforcement staff completed 23 private applicator record inspections and found 30 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 311 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 2014, DATCP inspected application records at 53 businesses and documented approximately 100 violations. Business and commercial applicators most commonly fail to record all the elements required by law. For example, applicators forget to record the EPA registration number of the pesticide applied or 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 were not identified. Staff also documented two applicator licensing violations. 


The DriftWatchTM program was created by Purdue University to facilitate communication between specialty-crop growers and pesticide applicators. The goal is to ensure pesticide applicators are aware of the location and needs of specialty crops including bees, fruits and organic produce. Readily accessible information about sensitive crop locations can help applicators make informed decisions regarding pesticide use near sensitive crops. The Bureau’s website has two videos to help educate the public about the DriftWatch​TM program and pesticide drift​

The DriftWatchTM coordinator interacts with producers in order to encourage them to register for the program. Additionally, the program coordinator uses email campaigns to a number of organizations and individuals including organic farmers, farmers market managers, specialty-crop trade publications and organic certification agencies. 

Over 580 Wisconsin producers have registered 982 specialty-crop sites and 302 apiaries on DriftWatchTM. The number of sites and the number of apiaries has nearly doubled from a year ago. Additionally, 33 pesticide applicators signed up to receive notifications about new sites on the DriftWatchTM maps as they are registered. However, at this time applicators are not required to be registered to view the DriftWatchTM maps. 

Integrated Pest Management 

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 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 2014, 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 Pest Control Association’s Technically Speaking 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 pesticide program continues to respond to inquiries regarding management of bed bugs. During 2014, Department staff observed structural pest control applications for bed bugs. Potential misuse of pesticides related to bed bug control is an increasing national concern. The department began a partnership with the University of Minnesota and other agencies located in the EPA Region 5 states to expand awareness of bed bugs and control options. For more information visit the Let’s Beat the Bed Bug webpage. See the Wisconsin pesticide program’s bed bug webpages for more information. 

Direction for the Coming Year 

In addition to the routine pesticide recordkeeping and use obser​vations, the pesticide program will focus on the following activities, 

Pollinator Protection  The Department will assist the DATCP Plant Industry Bureau and the University of Wisconsin-Madison develop a state pollinator protection plan. A draft pollinator plan is expected in Nnovember 2015. 

Soil Fumigants  DATCP staff will continue to work with pesticide applicators, crop growers, and others on implementing the Phase 2 label requirements, including observing fumigant applications. 

Commercial Applicator Records Inspections  The department will work with industry associations in 2015 to remind businesses and applicators of recordkeeping requirements.  An updated inspection form that better addresses rule requirements and informational needs also will be used in 2015. 

Use Observations  For 2015, 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: corn, forestry, soil fumigants, crops and pollinators, mosquito control, structural fumigation, rights of way and natural areas, turf and landscapes and products with special pesticide registrations. 

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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