Weed War

Weeds cause more than $430 million in annual agricultural losses in Florida. Herbicide sales are estimated at about 76% of all pesticides sold in the U.S. Best practices in herbicide application is critically important in achieving effective weed control, reducing personal injury of applicators as well as damage and lawsuits over unintended targets.
Employers are responsible for providing all personal protective equipment (PPE) required on the herbicide label. The law also requires applicators to correctly wear PPE, so be sure to check the label before you start the application. For example, some labels require long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and boots with socks, while other labels may require additional pieces, such as rubber boots and respirators.

Equipment Check

Tractor checkpoints are similar to those on your car, and should be inspected daily or upon use. Remember the phrase GOT W? Check these before you start your application:
– “G” stands for gas or diesel
– “O” is oil
– “T” is tire pressure
– “W” is water level in the radiator
Once that is complete, it’s important to inspect your sprayers. Check all nozzles, strainers, and orifices for any obstructions. Scan for leaks or obstructions in filters, strainers, and hoses. Make sure valves operate freely with no leaks. Check for leaks on connections on the application and agitation lines. Be sure pressure gauges are operating freely. And allow your nozzle patterns to overlap by 30% for best coverage. Some nozzles require more overlap, depending on boom height, design, etc.

Mixing And Loading

Fill the tank 1/3 full with water. Start the agitation in the tank. Next, carefully measure all chemicals on a flat surface, below eye level. Be sure the measuring cup is precise enough for the measured units. This step is critical, so don’t rush.
Slowly add chemicals to the tank. Don’t forget the proper PPE and be careful to follow the “WALES” (W-Wettable Powders; A-Agitation; L-Liquids; E-Emulsifiables; S-Surfactants) mixing orders.
When supplying water to the tank, remember to use a backflow prevention device. This can be a check valve, artesian pressure, or simply keeping a gap between the fill-hose and tank. Remember, always leave enough space for the liquid inside the tank to move. An overfilled tank can force the lid off, allowing the tank’s contents to spill onto the ground.

Final Preparations

The application portion of the job often requires different PPEs than that used for mixing and loading. Be sure to check the label again for specific application requirements.

Spill Containment
There are three important steps frequently referred to as the “Three C’s” of spill control.
1. Control the spill
2. Contain the spill
3. Clean it up
To learn more about the Florida Agricultural Worker Safety Act, visit www.flaes.org.
Check the weather and field conditions before application. Wind and rain can cause drift and wash-offs, thus failure of the herbicide application. Before you begin an application, also inspect the area to be sprayed. Look for obstacles, people, pets, and other crops that could be damaged by the herbicide. Picking bins and ladders are sometimes forgotten and left behind by harvesting crews.

Apply Now

Keep the boom low and level or parallel to the soil surface. While spraying, maintain a safe distance between the boom and the targeted crop but high enough for the weeds to pass under and be sprayed by the herbicide product.
Shut off all valves when making your rounds at the row end. When the tank is running out of material, the gauges on the application line begin to fluctuate. Be sure to flag the row where you left off. If another operator has to finish the job, he/she will know where to start.

Clean-Up Time

Once the herbicide application is complete, park the tractor in a permanent or temporary wash station and, while still wearing appropriate PPEs, clean the equipment thoroughly. Extra attention needs to be given to the areas of the tractor that came in contact with the herbicide, including the boom, pump, tires, and tank.
Regarding PPE, while wearing gloves, remove the plastic suit and dispose of it properly. Wash boots with soap and water and allow them to air dry. Wash all protective eye wear with soap and water. Clean gloves while still wearing them with soap and water. Then wash the inside and allow them to air dry. Make sure to wash all work clothes separate from the family’s clothing.


Before you start an herbicide treatment, post all the information in a central location where all workers can see it. The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) board is a perfect spot.
This posted document must contain:
– Name of applicator
– Date and time of application
– Area to be sprayed
– Restricted entry interval
– Name of the chemical in use
(common name)
– Percent of formulation
(active ingredient)
– Method of application
– Amount applied

Reference: Brian Boman et al. “Herbicide Application Best Management Practices for Citrus Grove Workers.” AE246. UF/IFAS.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Weed War

  1. I took this test Sunday 10/10/10 but have not heard from you.

    That afternoon I did experience some computer problems while submitting my answers so maybe you didn’t get it.

    I am submitting this test again since I had previuosly recorded my answers. The other 3 tests I took that day were fine & I have recieved notices regarding them.

    Hope this works this time. Look forward to hearing from you.

  2. I took this test Sunday 10/10/10 but have not heard from you.

    That afternoon I did experience some computer problems while submitting my answers so maybe you didn’t get it.

    I am submitting this test again since I had previuosly recorded my answers. The other 3 tests I took that day were fine & I have recieved notices regarding them.

    Hope this works this time. Look forward to hearing from you.

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