Air Quality Rules May Limit Use of Popular EC Formulation Pesticides

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is revising its regulations on volatile organic compound (VOC)-emitting pesticides, which could change the crop protection decisions almond growers make in the 2013 crop season. DPR has targeted the use and application of soil fumigants and emulsifiable concentrate (EC) pesticides to reduce VOC emissions in the San Joaquin Valley, thus helping to meet federal ozone air quality standards.

The draft revisions propose to ban the use of high-VOC-emitting formulations for three major pesticides in almonds: chlorpyrifos (Lorsban), abamectin (Agri-Mek) and oxyfluorfen (Goal). DPR is focusing on certain EC formulations rather than further restricting the use of soil fumigants if pesticide VOC emissions have exceeded the cap in the San Joaquin Valley.

After several years of declines in pesticide VOC emissions in the SJV, emissions crept close to cap in 2010, and there is concern that 2011 usage will have exceeded the VOC rule trigger. Almonds, partly due to the sheer size of the state’s acreage, are the top contributor to pesticide VOC emissions in the SJV, and almonds were the top contributor for abamectin and oxyfluorfen use in 2010.

More expensive brand-name lower-VOC formulations are now registered for all three compounds. Alternative compounds with lower VOCs are also available, especially for mite control. DPR offers a VOC calculator on its website to compare the VOC emissions of different formulations and different products.