Commercial Pesticide Applicator Testing. That is what the Michigan Department of Agriculture - Pesticide and Plant Management Division calls what I did yesterday morning.
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) Under FIFRA, the EPA is responsible for registering or authorizing pesticide products for use in the United States. The two main classifications of pesticides are unclassified or general-use pesticides (GUP) and restricted-use pesticides (RUP). Restricted-use pesticides may only be sold to a certified pesticide applicator. There are two categories of certified applicators, private applicators and commercial applicators. Commercial applicators are individuals who use or supervise the use of any RUP on property the he does not own or lease. Willful violations of FIFRA are subject to fines of up $25,000 and up to one year imprisonment.
Other federal laws and regulations that govern pesticide application include:
The Worker Protection Standard (WPS), aimed at reducing pesticide exposure to agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.
The Endangered Species Act (ESA), the relevant sections of this law compel the EPA ensures that no registered pesticide use is likely to jeopardize the survival of any endangered or threatened species.
The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), sets tolerances for pesticide levels on food for human and/or animal consumption. (Not really relevant to turf and golf courses.)
The Food Quality Protection Act, set a tougher standard for pesticides that will be used for food. (Again, not relevant to golf courses.)
What this means is that, as a golf course Superintendent, I must take a test every three years to maintain my commercial pesticide applicator standing. This entails a core manual, which covers basics of pesticide use and handling (as well as the laws that I just laid out) and then a category of pesticide use.
The "core" test involves a 75 question test. A score of 70% is required to pass. I scored a 70/75. (I put the numbers up here, not to brag, but because I assume everyone would want to know how I did.) Each of the "category" test has a 50 question, multiple-choice test. Once again, 70% or better is need to pass. I took tests in Fruit Crops (1C) where I scored 43/50, Aquatics (5) where I scored 40/50 as well as a category called 6J. This is a combined test where Turfgrass (3A), Ornamentals (3B) and Right-of-Way (6) are rolled into one, 125 question test. These three categories are a common grouping, especially for golf courses and landscaping companies. This would allow an applicator to spray lawns (turfgrass), roses (ornamentals) and parking lots (right-of-way) while eliminating some of the questions that each test would have in common. I scored 101/125 on 6J.
This is just a small view of some the the things that go on behind the scenes, as well as during the winter. I will need to re-certify again in 2015, it looks like I need to do some studying.