April is water conservation month here in the state of Florida. Multiple agencies have wonderful information about what we can do to conserve water here in Florida (https://www.tampabaywater.org/blog/april-is-water-conservation-month-do-your-part-be-water-smart/ ; https://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/about/newsroom/news/10-tips-save-water-water-conservation-month-6 ). So how do Pesticides and Water Conservation come together. Why am I about to tell you to “use all the water” when it comes to pesticide safety?
Pesticide applicators and pesticides in general can have an impact on water. There are pesticides directly used to improve water quality, so a benefit. There are times where unwanted pesticides getting into water can degrade water quality, a negative. The point is it isn’t necessarily the pesticide itself, but how it is used. It is EVERY applicators responsibility to read and follow all LABELS. By following the label and proper techniques, unintended pesticides in water can largely be avoided.
This still doesn’t deal with conserving water though, and certainly less pesticides mean better water right and less water usage, right? Well, I hinted that pesticides can be used to enhance water quality directly, this could be through aquatic invasive species management, or even algae control in drinking water. Proper weed control in a crop can also help reduce overall water usage as well. Yes, water is used to put out the pesticide, but less weeds means less water is lost from the crop, and less water is needed overall.
There we go, I just pulled water conservation and pesticides together, but now I am going to contradict myself and tell you some parts of pesticides require you to NOT conserve water. How can this be, why would I tell you this and during water conservation month even! Ok, as we get into this hopefully you will see I am telling you NOT to think about conservation BUT if you focus on safety, you will end up conserving in the long run.
Water must be provided for applicators AND pesticide handlers working on agricultural settings. Water SHOULD be carried by all applicators regardless, and we aren’t just talking about a small little bottle. The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requires water be taken into the field for workers and handlers. It calls for as little as 1 gallon, up to 6 gallons, but even leaves room for more. What is needed is enough water to be able to rinse your eyes for 15 minutes total. That can be a lot of water, certainly more than just a few gallons. More is better, as you want to ensure you can properly rinse your eyes out, not just get them a little wet. For how best to rinse your eyes check out What To Do If You Get Pesticide In Your Eye.
It’s not just water for your eyes either, having soap and water for washing hands, skin, and PPE is important. In short, don’t skimp on the water! You might be thinking “I will just tow an entire tank of water all week just to be safe”. Be aware, the water must be clean AND temperature appropriate. Rinsing your eyes with water sitting in a tank on the back of a truck all week in the Florida sun…that’s gonna leave a mark. So, replace your clean water often and make sure to keep it at a temperature that is safe.
Now if you are worried about wasting all that water by replacing it all the time, you could always use that water to irrigate landscape plants, potted plants, really anything, and thus conserve using additional water. The best applicators will be safe AND water smart along the way. So, with water conservation month upon us now you know how to incorporate Pesticides and Water Conservation. For those hoping for a musical playlist and punny jokes…I am sorry to disappoint you. Not every blog can deliver all the goods, I have to leave you wanting more right?