By Brandy Harrison
GUELPH — Starting this fall, farmers may want to brace themselves for more paperwork if their farm plan includes neonicotinoid-treated seeds in 2016.
As of July 1, the province began phasing in new regulations to reduce bee deaths related to corn and soybean seeds treated with neonic insecticides, which account for nearly all of the province’s corn acreage and about 60 per cent of soybean acres, according to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. The target is to reduce treated seed acreage by 80 per cent in two years’ time and bee overwintering mortality to 15 per cent by 2020.
The new Class 12 pesticide category excludes popping and sweet corn, fungicide-treated seeds, and seed production under contract.
With new forms required for fall seed orders, OMAFRA held province-wide sessions over the last two months to bring farmers up to speed. Here is what farmers need to know and do ahead of 2016 and every year starting in 2017.
Pest management training: It’s not required for 2016 but farmers will need mandatory integrated-pest management (IPM) training to buy neonic-treated seed after Aug. 31, 2016. The short training includes how to protect pollinators from pesticide exposure, identifying pests, scouting methods, and pesticide alternatives. Certification is valid for five years and the Ridgetown campus of the University of Guelph will offer free training, both online and in person, from November until next September.
Seed amount declaration: To purchase neonic-treated seed this fall, farmers must provide their seed vendors with a seed amount declaration for both corn and soybeans that confirms they will only plant treated seed on 50 per cent or less of their acreage. Declarations must identify treated and untreated corn and soybean acreage, including a legal description of each farm property and total acreage. If poor weather changes the 50/50 ratio, it won’t likely be considered a violation, said a Ministry of the Environment spokesperson at a September information session.
Pest assessment report: To exceed the 50 per cent limit, farmers need to provide a pest assessment report, on the honour system, to their vendor. For next season, farmers can complete their own soil inspection without any special training but after Aug. 31, 2016, they must have IPM certification. For a how-to lesson in scouting, see page 23.
Approved hybrids: Farmers can only buy varieties and hybrids that vendors have added to the Class 12 pesticides list, which is posted on the Ontario government’s website in August each year. The 2016 list includes nearly 1,800 hybrids. Farmers cannot premix treated and untreated seed.
Farmers will have to provide three documents to their seed vendors to order neonic-treated seeds.
IPM training certification: An IPM-trained person can supervise up to seven people planting and must be present at the application site with his ID card and documentation for using treated seed.
IPM declaration: Farmers must sign a written declaration stating that IPM principles were considered.
Pest assessment report: A soil or crop inspection is required every year starting Aug. 31, 2016 for farmers to purchase and plant neonic-treated seed. Reports are valid for seed purchased within 12 months.
Recordkeeping: Farmers must keep records on neonic use, such as hybrid name, date planted, location and sketch of farm property, and amount used, as well as related documentation, such as pest assessment reports, for two years.
For more information and forms, visit www.ontario.ca/neonics.