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University of Minnesota Extension

Use pesticides and fertilizers safely

Yellow and black bumble bee on purple hyssop flower

Let’s strive for no-pesticide landscapes in 2021!

We always advise using the strategies of integrated pest management (IPM) such as:

  • planting the right plant in the right place,
  • scouting and identifying pests,
  • determining if damage is cosmetic or life-threatening,
  • good sanitation, and
  • caring for plants properly.

However, there are some cases where pesticides become necessary, especially in the case of managing noxious weeds or when there is potential for significant plants or crop loss due to a pest infestation. 

You can apply some pesticide products and fertilizers yourself or hire a professional. If you are taking it on yourself, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and UMN Extension urge everyone to use pesticides and fertilizers safely.

Start by reading and following all label directions. Labels explain how to use the product safely and most effectively. In Minnesota, it is illegal to apply products without following the label directions. The label is the law.

Hire a professional

State law requires professional companies and applicators to be licensed by the MDA in order to commercially apply pesticides and fertilizers, including weed and feed products. Applicators must recertify their licenses every two years. MDA and Extension Pesticide Safety and Environmental Education (PSEE) develop and offer continuing education for licensed applicators so that their knowledge is up to date and to assure that they understand and follow state and federal regulations.

If you hire a professional, check their license, be wary of unrealistic claims, and be aware of posted warning flags indicating chemical treatment. 

If you apply products yourself

MDA recommends

  • Get a soil test.
  • Read and follow pesticide label directions.
  • Avoid application on windy days or in heavy rain.

You can find many articles in Yard & Garden News and search this website for non-chemical ways to reduce and even eliminate insect pests, diseases and weeds in your yards and gardens.

More tips from the MDA

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