Extension Ag Update
September/October 2002
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Custom Hay Balers, Take Note

Bruce Paulsrud, Extension Specialist, Urbana, 217-244- 9646, paulsrud@uiuc.edu

There has been some confusion regarding the classification of propionic acid used during hay baling. The confusion stems from the fact that formulations of propionic acid are sold for use in hay, yet they do not come with a recognizable pesticide label. As a result, the US–EPA has reiterated to the manufacturers that propionic acid is a pesticide and must be labeled as such when it is being used for pesticidal purposes. One such use is the application of the acid during hay baling, because the product acts as a preservative by inhibiting rot organisms.

Propionic acid is not a restricted-use pesticide, so farmers applying it as a hay preservative for their own use do not need to be licensed. However, a custom/for-hire hay baler using the acid must be licensed as a commercial applicator in the field crops category. Commercial applicators must pay a $45 annual license fee and provide a certificate of insurance.

Contact your local University of Illinois Extension office to obtain study materials to help you prepare for the general standards and field crops exams. You may make an appointment with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to take the examinations anytime during the year by calling (217) 785-2427 for the Springfield office or (847) 294-4343 for the Des Plaines office. Optional training sessions in conjunction with testing are provided during the winter, and your Extension office can provide you with further details.