Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

Local Bans on Pesticides and Fertilizers Increasing

Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

Local Bans on Pesticides and Fertilizers Increasing

Article excerpt

I recently wrote about Maryland's hearings on legislation to further regulate neonicotinoid (neonics) pesticides. Early in March, the Maryland Senate passed Senate Bill 198, a pollinator health bill that would eliminate the sale of neonicotinoid pesticides at the retail level; but the bill doesn't restrict neonic pesticide use by certified applicators. During debate, landscape professionals won a significant victory by successfully lobbying for the removal of the word "direct" from the legislation. Without this important revision, the proposal would have required pesticide applicators to work directly under the supervision of a certified applicator, a distinction that could potentially complicate daily business operations. The Maryland House of Delegates quickly concurred with the Senate and, as of this writing, a bill sits on the governor's desk awaiting approval. If signed as expected, Maryland will become the first state to restrict the retail sale of neonics.

Maryland isn't the only location with these issues. The issue of limiting pesticides and fertilizers that lawn care and landscape professionals use on a daily basis is popping up in several different communities, often starting at the hyper-local level.

The South Portland Maine City Council unanimously approved a first reading of a pesticide ban that would limit what chemicals landscape professionals can use to control lawn and garden pests in the city.

The ordinance would apply to city property starting May 1, 2017, and broaden to private property May 1, 2018--and it would prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides other than products allowed by the Organic Materials Review Institute or exempt from regulation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

These ordinances are problematic, not only for the companies who work in the affected areas, but they should be off concern to all professionals, because they can spread. In this case, if South Portland passes the ordinance, there are several other communities in Maine--including Portland and Harpswell--that will consider adopting similar language.

It is interesting that bans are proposed when people don't understand the need for them or how they work, but when there is a problem, their use is recognized and required. Recently in Minnesota, the Duluth City Council resolved to stop using neonics on city property and instructed staff members to do their best to steer clear of plants that have been treated with the insecticide.

However, councilors offered one exception--authorizing the use of neonics to protect high-value ash trees from the spreading threat of emerald ash borers. Many communities, particularly those located in the east and Midwest are seeing their population of ash trees decimated by this species of beetle, and one of the most effective ways to treat and protect ash trees is with the use of neonics. Without the use of pesticides, thousands of healthy trees are often sacrificed in order to try to curtail the spread of emerald ash borer infestation. …

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