Positive Results from Private Pesticide Applicator Recertification Program

Kristine Schaefer, Extension Program Specialist, Entomology


Federal and State law requires that all people who purchase and apply restricted use pesticides and any applicator who applies pesticides for hire be certified according to established standards. Each year, the Iowa State University Extension Pest Management and Environment Program (PME) develops and delivers recertification training programs for private pesticide applicators that apply restricted use pesticides.  The recertification programs provide an immense measure of benefit to the public and the environment as each program addresses pertinent and emerging issues associated with safe and efficient pesticide use and pest management. 


The primary objective of the private pesticide applicator recertification program is to provide pertinent and timely information to pesticide applicators so they have the knowledge to safely and effectively apply pesticides.  Specifically for the 2008-2009 training season, the central objective was the development and delivery of information regarding the following required program topics:  Sensitive Crops Directory and Iowa Bee Rule, Preharvest Intervals, Ag Health Study Update, and Calibration/Safe Application Techniques which included three subject areas – Nozzle Maintenance and Drift Reducing Nozzles (both prerecorded DVD video clips) and Sprayer Cleanup.  In addition, the following pest management and optional program modules were developed: Soybean Aphid Speed Scouting Technique (DVD video segment),

Insect Resistance Management (PowerPoint presentation with interactive response system incorporated), Colony Collapse Disorder (DVD video segment), Back to Basics Disease Management, Weed Survey Results and Weed Resistant Management, Introduction to new State Apiarist and Iowa Bee Rule (DVD video segment), and 2008-2009 Recertification Requirements.


The private pesticide applicator training program conducted 326 meetings (in all 99 counties throughout Iowa) from December 2008 to April 2009.  Total attendance at these meetings was 16,913 participants.   A post-training evaluation indicated that the program was successful and well received. Overall, 96% of the respondents rated the program as excellent or good.  In addition, 95% of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the information presented at the meeting was useful for their farm operations.

Outcome Statement:

To determine if the program had an impact on the participants, the evaluation examined specific areas to assess intended behavioral changes toward safer pesticide use practices. As a result of the program, 44% of participants said they would check the Sensitive Crops directory before making potentially hazardous applications to nearby sensitive crops or bees (39% reported that, prior to attending the recertification program, they already took the time to check the directory).  Also, 22% of applicators stated they plan to check nozzle output and replace worn or inaccurate nozzles on spray booms (67% reported they already did this). 

In addition, the evaluation examined if participants had indeed fulfilled intentions and successfully implemented new pesticide safety activities as a result of the previous 2007-2008 private pesticide applicator training program.  According to the respondents, 86% of the participants said they took steps to reduce pesticide exposure and contamination in their homes, and the same percentage reported they reviewed the pesticide label of restricted use products to determine the particular hazards associated with each product.

This successful program continues to deliver positive results, impacts the safety and economic well being of our rural residents, and indirectly impacts other citizens through a cleaner and safer environment. It adds immense value to society and communities, and addresses emerging human health, environmental, and pest management issues.


170  Pesticide Applicator Training

Page last updated: August 5, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu