Pesticides rounded up

For area farmers, the free obsolete pesticide collection scheduled for later this fall is a long time coming.

For area farmers, the free obsolete pesticide collection scheduled for later this fall is a long time coming.

It has been eight years since the last obsolete pesticide collection came to Alberta and Russel Hurst, CleanFARMS obsolete collections director, said that is part of what makes this collection important.

“It has been quite some time,” said Hurst. “Traditionally what we do is run the programs every three to four years in each province.”

CleanFARMS is a non-profit industry stewardship organization that works on behalf of agricultural companies.

The last obsolete pesticide collection in Alberta was in 2004 and to catch up, because of the size of both the province and the agricultural base, CleanFARMS has split the province into north and south halves. Red Deer falls into the southern half, which will take place this year. The collection will happen on Nov. 2 at the Red Deer Viterra (Hwy 11 West, Burnt Lake Trail).

In total, there will be 22 pickup locations across the province between Oct. 29 and Nov. 2. The next nearest location to Red Deer is at Crop Production Services in Didsbury. Next year, they plan to have 25 pickup locations in the northern half of Alberta.

“We’ll pick up in the area of 100 to 120 tonnes of obsolete pesticides,” said Hurst. “We send them all for high temperature incineration in Alberta, up at Swan Hills.”

Typically, the disposal option for many growers can be costly as they have to contract a waste hauler. So CleanFARMS, on behalf of pesticide manufacturers, offers these free disposal programs to get rid of their products.

“We get anything under the sun,” said Hurst. “We get some really, really old product, in some instances we will get DDT, it’s rare now but we still get it in. We’ll see it in farm sheds.”

Hurst said about 50 per cent of the products collected at these disposal sites is more than 25 years old.

“The stuff we’re getting in has been sitting around for quite some time,” said Hurst. “It’s a pesticide, so if used appropriately it’s a wonderful tool for growers, but the big thing is when it’s life has expired or it’s no longer usable and becomes obsolete, as an industry it needs to be managed appropriately.”

There are a whole host of reasons that producers find and return these products, said Hurst, including finding them in a little used outbuilding, retirement, farms passed down through generations or they are sold, or even if a producer changes crops and the products they have are no longer usable.

Storage of the chemicals also becomes an issue in the Prairies as a cold winter can freeze a pesticide and affect the usability.

While Hurst said it is hard to project how much pesticide will be collected, he estimated they would collect between 40,000 and 50,000 litres.

“Ideally what my goal is, is to have a program in Alberta the same as we do in other provinces every three years,” said Hurst. “So the growers know there is a collection program coming up in 2012, 2013 or 2015, 2016. So it’s a little more predictable from their (growers) standpoint.”

In Alberta, the program is paid for by the manufacturers and distributors who are members of CropLife and CleanFARMS.

Some members include: Co-op, Viterra, Cargill, Canterra, United Farmers of Alberta, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences.

“We want to see these products, when they’re no longer useful from a crop production standpoint, we need to ensure they’re disposed of in an appropriate way,” said Hurst. “We don’t want to see them go into environmentally sensitive areas.”

Red Deer’s obsolete pesticide collection is scheduled for Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Viterra.