Friday, April 25, 2014

MDA reminds Minnesotans to use pesticides and fertilizers with care

ST. PAUL, Minn. – With the arrival of spring, people begin to think about their lawns, trees, and gardens. Whether you apply pesticides or fertilizers on your own or hire a professional, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) reminds everyone to avoid contact with lawn care products, read the product label and follow all label directions. The directions on a product label will explain how to use a product safely and effectively. 

Minnesota law requires anyone commercially applying weed and feed products; pesticides that control weeds, insects, fungus or other unwanted pests; and/or fertilizers supplying plant nutrients to hold a license issued by the MDA. Persons licensed by MDA have passed examinations that demonstrate that they have the needed qualifications and knowledge to use lawn and ornamental care chemicals safely and effectively.

Most professional applicators understand the importance of obeying the Law, according to MDA Licensing Manager Joe Spitzmueller, and abide by state and federal regulations. 

“It is essential that people read and follow label directions to reduce risks for people and the environment,” said Spitzmueller. “Watch out for unqualified persons and companies promoting tree, lawn and garden care services.”

Whether you are hiring a professional or doing the work yourself, these tips from the MDA will help ensure lawn, garden and tree-care services are performed correctly:
  • Licensed professionals must carry a valid ID card;
  • Be cautious of persons who make promises that are too good to be true, make claims that their products are completely safe, or pressure you to commit to and sign a service contract;
  • Never apply lawn care chemicals in bad weather conditions, such as in excessive heat or in high wind where products can drift off-site and potentially harm people or plants;
  • Notice warning flags that are posted at entry points after a treatment that alert persons to be careful around a treated area;
  • Sweep up any product from sidewalks or other hard surfaces and reapply it to the intended site;
  • Review the application record provided by the applicator that documents their work including products used and amounts applied; and
  • Buy only what you need and store unused product safely.

Consumers can call the Better Business Bureau at 800-646-6222 and ask for customer satisfaction history about lawn care companies. For information about applicator licenses, call the MDA at 651-201-6615. To report an unlicensed person making a pesticide or fertilizer application, please file a complaint online at the MDA website,, click “Register a Complaint” on the homepage, and then go to “Pesticide Misuse Complaint.”