NDSU Extension Pesticide Certification Program Vital to Safe Handling and Knowledge

“There’s so much information to digest when it comes to pesticides,” says Dwight Johnson of Park River, N.D. “Whether it’s the chemistry of pesticides or understanding spray drift, NDSU Extension’s Pesticide Certification program provided the information I needed to work with pesticides effectively.”

Johnson is one of 4,000 individuals who obtained their private pesticide certification through NDSU Extension’s Pesticide Certification Program in the past year.

“Extension is responsible for the certification of pesticide applicators and/or dealers in North Dakota,” says Andrew Thostenson, Extension pesticide program specialist. “Certification is intended to ensure that people who use or merchandise certain pesticides or who make specific types of pesticide applications have a fundamental understanding of how to do so safely. Pesticide certification is the foundation for the safe and effective use of pesticides.”

Pesticide certification is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for people selling, purchasing or using restricted-use pesticides. The program is offered to private applicators such as farmers, gardeners and landowners, or anyone wanting to use restricted-use pesticides, and commercial or public applicators and dealers.

“For this program to be successful, it takes a collaborative effort among NDSU Extension agents who administer the program in each county and state specialists who develop the technical information needed to keep the program timely and relevant,” Thostenson says.

The work of Tom Peters, NDSU Extension sugar beet agronomist, and John Nowatzki, NDSU Extension ag machines systems specialist, has been critical in this area, explains Thostenson. Peters, Nowatzki and Thostenson have worked together to develop information on spray nozzle technology, understanding air temperature inversions and reducing spray drift by analyzing North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network data. In addition, they have updated and authored multiple Extension publications and presented seminars at meetings and field days.

Rick Schmidt, NDSU Extension agent in Oliver County, and Brad Brummond, Extension agent in Walsh County, believe that no other Extension program allows them to develop relationships with every landowner, farmer or farm worker in their respective counties the way the pesticide certification program does.

“In Walsh County, we have many minority farm laborers who take the certification course,” says Brummond. “By connecting with them through pesticide certification, I get to know them personally and connect them to other Extension education they might be looking for.”

“We believe this program empowers all applicators to use pesticide products both effectively and economically,” Thostenson says. “But beyond providing knowledge on current pesticide issues, we are always thinking ahead to improve the training for future applicators. In the future, we plan to incorporate information on situational ethics, good decision making and managing stress into our trainings as well.”


Andrew Thostenson, 701-231-8050, andrew.thostenson@ndsu.edu 

Top of page