The University of Illinois Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP)
recently released new online training courses to take the place of
traditional live training clinics that we are unable to hold due to
the ongoing pandemic. You can view a list of the available training
courses and their registration fees by visiting Illinois PSEP’s Training
& Testing web page. This web page also lists anticipated availabilities of additional
online training courses.
PSEP specialists constructed the new online training courses to
mirror the traditional in-person training clinics. They are specifically
designed to establish or reinforce the competencies required of
Illinois Pesticide Applicators. As with the in-person training clinics,
these courses can provide valuable tools in preparation for their
respective licensure exams administered by the Illinois Department of
Access to each course is available for a 30-day window upon purchase. While each course provides a linear flow of content that builds upon itself, you are free to navigate the course in any order you wish. Your progress will be automatically saved so that you can quickly pick up where you left off. You may review the course content as many times as you would like during your access window.
Courses are broken down into bite-sized training modules that help encapsulate specific topics and concepts. Content is delivered in short videos and immediately followed with knowledge check questions. While entirely optional, these questions will help you to determine your exam readiness and any concepts or topics you may want to reinforce in your exam preparation.
To register, or for additional information regarding online training, please visit Illinois PSEP’s Training & Testing web page.
By Matt Gill
As COVID has restricted in-person gatherings, traditional large-capacity pesticide applicator testing sites will not be available for some time. While the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDA) is working to provide in-person testing sessions as soon as permissible, an online option will also be offered to all who choose to utilize it.
IDA has several online exams available now, with a plan to have all exams available by February 2021. Once available, each exam will remain open through at least July 2021. Each online exam is remotely proctored and requires a $12.00 fee per exam attempt for the proctoring service itself. The fee is payable, by credit card only, at the time of scheduling your exam appointment.
In order to utilize the online testing option, you will need to ensure you have access to the following:
- A Windows or Mac Computer with the Google Chrome internet browser installed
-Computer must have only one monitor (screen) at the time of the exam
-Chromebooks, tablets and other mobile devices are not compatible
- A functioning webcam (can be built-in to a laptop)
- A functioning microphone (can be built-in to a laptop/webcam)
- A strong internet connection (1 Mbps minimum, >12 Mbps recommended)
- A private, quiet room
- One form of government-issued photo ID (i.e. Drivers License, etc.)
- (Optional) A calculator (Computer calculator apps, smartphones, smart watches or other smart devices will not be allowed)
To get started with the online testing option, follow the instructions listed on the University of Illinois Extension – Pesticide Safety Education Program’s “Training & Testing” webpage.
For those who choose to test in-person, IDA plans to offer testing sessions as early as January 5, 2021. The State’s COVID regulations limit location availability and session capacity. Sessions require pre-registration, and no Walk-Ins will be permitted. For more information and to pre-register for a session, you can check out the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s In-Person Testing webpage.
This article provides answers to questions about
PSEPs new Online Trainings and Online Exams. This article was written 12/07/2020. Any future
updates to this FAQ will be available at our FAQ page.
Registration & Training Questions
Where can I register for Online Training and Online Exams?
Visit the PSEP Website and click the orange bar at the bottom of the Training & Testing page to
browse the Online Trainings and Online Exams available and begin the registration process.
How long will I have access to my Online Training?
After registration, you will have 24-hour access for 30 consecutive calendar days. This will
include the capability to watch and replay the training as many times as you like and at your own
How long is each Online Training and Online Exam available for registration?
New Online Trainings and Online Exams will be released from November, 2020 through February,
2021, and will remain open for registration through June, 2021. Some trainings have already been
released. Check the table of release dates for each training and exam on the Training & Testing page on the PSEP Website.
Does each employee at my company have to create an individual account for Online Training?
Yes, each individual must have a unique account associated with their email address
to confirm their account. This allows each person to earn a certificate of completion and earn continuing education credits for those who need them.
What is the format of the Online Training like?
Each training includes introductory content explaining how to use the course, video modules with
optional knowledge check questions and optional additional resources. To get a closer look at the
trainings before registration please visit our Online Training – A Closer Look page.
How much time is given for each exam?
You will be given 3 hours to complete each exam. However, most people do not need the full 3 hours
to complete the exam. On average, people complete the General Standards Exam in 1 ½ hours,
Private Applicator Exam in 1 hour and Commercial Applicator Category Exams in 1 hour.
Do I have to pass my General Standards Exam before attempting an Applicator Category Exam?
Yes, you must pass the General Standards Exam before attempting an Applicator Category Exam.
I am an Applicator, can I take my General Standards Exam before the Category Exams become
available, or am I required to wait and take them together?
You can take your General Standards Exam any time prior to your Applicator Category Exam; you do
not have to wait for the release of other exams. When beginning your Online General Standards Exam
you will be asked to check a box indicating that you intend to take an Applicator Category Exam in the future.
When will I receive my exam score?
Your score and whether you’ve passed will be shown on the screen immediately after completing the exam.
Why is the exam $12?
Pesticide Operator and Applicator Exams are required by law to be proctored. The $12 goes to the online exam proctoring service, ProctorU, which will proctor all exams. It is not paid to University of Illinois or Illinois Department of Agriculture. Any questions about rescheduling, payments or refunds should be directed to the ProctorU Website where you can submit a request.
What do I do if I need to reschedule my Exam?
It is best to choose a time you are sure will work for you, because time slots may fill up quickly and another time slot may not be available in the same week. If you must reschedule, do so before you miss the exam. Any questions about rescheduling should be directed to the ProctorU Website where you can submit a request.
What are the system requirements for the Online Exam?
You will need a computer with internet, a camera, a microphone and the Chrome browser for the Online Exam. You will also have the opportunity to test your system within ProctorU and view an example exam in Moodle prior to beginning your real exam. For a detailed list of system requirements for the Online Exam, please visit the ProctorU Website.
What if I’d prefer to take my Exam In-Person?
In-person testing is available, free of charge, on a limited basis through Illinois Department of Agriculture. Online registration for in-person exams is available on the IDA Website or by phone at 800-641-3934 or 217-785-2477.
Where do I get information regarding licensing?
Visit the Illinois Dept of Agriculture’s Website or call IDA at 800-641-3934 or 217-785-2427.
Continuing Education Credits
Can I earn continuing education credits from the Online Trainings?
Yes, you can earn continuing education credits. Each training that offers credits will give instructions on how to gain the credits. These include completing every video in the training which will provide you with a certificate of completion. Some trainings will ask for your information to report to the crediting association and some will allow you to self-report to the crediting association. A list of courses that allow the viewer to earn continuing education credits are:
|Courses offering credits||Crediting Association or Agency|
|Field Crops Applicator||Board Certified CCA|
|Ornamental Applicator||ISA Certified Arborists|
What do I do if I need technical help with registration for Online Training or Testing?
If you are unsure how to register for the training after reading the instructions on the PSEP Website, please call the PSEP office for registration assistance at 800-644-2123 or 217-244-2123.
What do I do if I need technical help with Online Training?
If you are unsure how to use the training after reading the instructions or have other technical questions a contact form will be available at the top of each Online Training page. Please be patient. One of our educators will get back to you as soon as they can.
What do I do if I want to reschedule an exam, ask a question about payments or ask a general question about exam proctoring?
Any questions about rescheduling, payments or refunds should be directed to the ProctorU Website where you can submit a request.
EPA is taking the next step in its regulatory review of paraquat dichloride (paraquat), a widely-used herbicide. As outlined in the proposed interim decision for paraquat, the agency is proposing new measures to reduce risks associated with paraquat in order to better to protect human health and the environment. These measures include:
- Prohibiting aerial application for all uses and use sites except cotton desiccation;
- Prohibiting pressurized handgun and backpack sprayer application methods on the label;
- Limiting the maximum application rate for alfalfa to one pound of active ingredient per acre;
- Requiring enclosed cabs if area treated in 24-hour period is more than 80 acres;
- Requiring enclosed cabs or PF10 respirators if area treated in 24-hour period is 80 acres or less;
- Requiring a residential area drift buffer and 7-day restricted entry interval (REI) for cotton desiccation;
- Requiring a 48-hour REI for all crops and uses except cotton desiccation; and
- Adding mandatory spray drift management label language.
In addition, EPA is proposing to allow truck drivers who are not certified applicators to transport paraquat when certain conditions are met. Read the proposed interim decision here. Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, public comments will be accepted for 60 days in docket # EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0855 until December 22, 2020 at regulations.gov.
Paraquat is applied annually to control invasive weeds and plants in more than 100 crops—including cotton, corn, and soybeans, and there are presently no direct alternatives to this product. Because all paraquat products are Restricted Use Products, they can be applied only by certified pesticide applicators.
EPA has taken proactive steps, outside of the standard registration review process, to ensure paraquat is used in a manner that is safe and consistent with the label directions. This includes a safety awareness campaign and changes to labels and product packaging to stop improper uses, which have led to poisonings and deaths. Additionally, specialized training for certified applicators who use paraquat was released earlier this year to ensure that the pesticide is used correctly. EPA is continuing to evaluate the effectiveness of these measures as the agency works to complete the required registration review process.
The proposed interim decision (PID) for paraquat is the third step in EPA’s four-step process for evaluating a pesticide registration application that EPA conducts at least every 15 years. It is not a denial or an approval of the active ingredient.
In the PID, EPA proposes mitigation measures to reduce the human health and ecological risks identified in the agency’s human health and ecological risk assessments (step two). The agency published the draft risk assessments for paraquat in October 2019. The ID is the fourth step in the registration review process. In the ID, EPA finalizes mitigation measures to reduce the human health and ecological risks.
Additional information on the proposed interim decision for paraquat is available on EPA’s website.
As a reminder, online Paraquat Training is available online. NPSEC is currently revising the label-mandated paraquat training to include the following changes:
- Closed-system Requirement – As of December 31, 2020, paraquat registrants will no longer be able to distribute or sell paraquat products in containers less than 120 gallons without closed systems for removing product from the original container, any subsequent transfer of the product, and complete removal and rinsing of the product container. However, dealers and distributors will be permitted to continue to sell paraquat products that do not meet the closed-system requirement until their stocks run out.
- Jar Testing – Tank-mix compatibility testing, aka jar testing, is prohibited. Users are advised to check the product website for a list of some products that have been evaluated for compatibility.
EPA Press Release, October 22, 2020
NPSEC email, November 30, 2020
By Maria Turner
At the end of October, the U.S. EPA released the new dicamba labels for use over dicamba resistant soybeans and cotton crops. The three labels are XtendiMax, Engenia, and Tavium. The registration for these labels has been extended until 2025. There are some changes to take note of. This chart shows how the new labels differ from the 2018 labels of Xtendimax, Engenia and 2019 label of Tavium.
|LABEL SECTION||OLD 2018 LABELS(*2019 for Tavium)||NEW 2020 LABELS|
Size of Label
40 pages (XtendiMax); 27 pages (Engenia); 30 pages (Tavium)
17 pages (XtendiMax); 21 pages (Engenia); 34 pages (Tavium)
Length of Registration
5-year registration (ends 2025)
Engenia and XtendiMax: Xtend (dicamba-tolerant) crops listed alongside a large group of non-dicamba-tolerant crops Tavium: dicamba-tolerant (Xtend) crops and non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans listed.
All three: Only labeled for use with two dicamba-tolerant crops (Xtend RR2/XtendFlex soybeans and XtendFlex cotton) for all three herbicides.
Max Rate Permitted
XtendiMax: 44 oz/acre (1 lb. dicamba ae/acre) -- preemerge only; Engenia: 25.6 oz/acre (1 lb. dicamba ae/acre) -- preemerge only; Tavium: 3.53 pint/acre (0.5 lb. dicamba ae/acre and 1 lb. s-metolachlor/acre)
XtendiMax: 22 oz/acre (0.5 lb. dicamba ae/acre); Engenia: 12.8 oz/acre (0.5 lb. dicamba ae/acre); Tavium: 3.53 pint/acre (0.5 lb. dicamba ae/acre and 1 lb. metolachlor/acre)
Spray Timing Restriction
XtendiMax and Engenia: No applications after R1 or 45 days post-soybean planting; no spraying after mid-bloom or 60 days post-cotton planting; Tavium: No spraying after V4 or 45 days post-soybean planting; no applications after 6-leaf cotton or 60 days post-cotton planting.
All three: No spraying after June 30 in soybeans and after July 30 in cotton, plus: XtendiMax: No applications after R1 in soybeans; Engenia: No mention of growth stages; Tavium: No application after V4 in soybeans or after 6-leaf cotton.
Buffer for non-sensitive areas
110-foot downwind buffer
240-foot downwind buffer
Buffer for endangered species
110-foot downwind buffer to limit spray drift + 57-foot omnidirectional buffer.
310-foot downwind buffer to limit spray drift + 57-foot omnidirectional buffer.
Buffer Reduction Option
Did not exist.
Buffers for non-sensitive areas may be reduced to 110 feet, and buffers for endangered species may be reduced to 240 feet when using a qualified hooded sprayer in soybeans only. To clarify, Illinois has 29 counties with endangered species where the downwind buffer to protect sensitive areas must be 310 feet and 57 feet on all other sides of the field. All labels will still state "do not spray" if sensitive crops are downwind.
Language suggesting applicators try to keep the pH of their tank mix above 5 to minimize volatility risks.
XtendiMax and Tavium require use of a qualified pH buffering adjuvant or VRA (volatility-reducing agent) AND a drift-reduction agent (DRA) in every application, to be listed on registrant websites. Engenia only requires the use of a pH buffering adjuvant.
Dicamba or auxin-specific training required annually for all applicators by either the state or the registrants.
XtendiMax and Tavium: Dicamba or auxin-specific training required initially for all applicators by either the state or registrants, then every other year going forward; Engenia: Training still required annually. The addition of some new required education on 2020 changes.
Applicators must document a list of 14 to 20 required items (variation due to different item breakdowns between products) within 72 hours of application and keep records for two years.
Applicators must document all the same items within the same time period for two years, with the addition of the new 2020 requirements such as use of a buffering pH agent/VRA and hooded sprayer use.
Source: https://www.dtnpf.com/agriculture/web/ag/crops/article/2020/10/28/breakdown-changes-2020-dicamba, Emily Unglesbee, DTN Staff Reporter
The new labels provide some new flexibility for growers and states. According to the US EPA, “there are opportunities for growers to reduce the downwind spray buffer for soybeans through use of certain approved hooded sprayers as an alternative control method.” States may also enact further restrictions utilizing Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 24 (a). Corteva’s FeXapan label has not been reregistered yet but is in the process currently. Be sure to stay tuned for more information throughout the winter.
EPA Announces 2020 Dicamba Registration Decision
New Dicamba Labels- A breakdown of changes to the 2020 Dicamba Labels
Illinois Dicamba Used on Soybeans: Training for Applicators
By Travis Cleveland.
The Worker Protection Standard (WPS) is a regulation intended to reduce the risks of illness or injury to workers and handlers resulting from occupational exposures to pesticides used in the production of agricultural plants. The WPS was first issued by the EPA in 1992 and was revised in 2015. The 2015 revision introduced a new application exclusion zones (AEZ) provision, with the goal of further protecting workers and others from pesticide exposure during pesticide applications. The EPA defined the AEZ as “the area surrounding the application equipment that must be free of all persons other than appropriately trained and equipped handlers during pesticide applications.” In response to feedback from stakeholders and to reduce regulatory burden, the EPA recently announced revisions to the AEZ definition and requirements. The changes clarify and simplify the AEZ requirements while still providing the necessary protections for agricultural workers and the public. The revised AEZ requirements take effect on December 29, 2020.
The EPA amended the AEZ definition to “the area surrounding the point(s) of pesticide discharge from the application equipment that must generally be free of all persons during pesticide applications.” The changes clarify where the AEZ distance begins (point of discharge) and emphasize that the AEZ must generally be free of all persons. They added “generally” because there are a few exemptions and exceptions, such as trained and equipped handlers involved in the application may be within an AEZ during application.
The EPA made the following changes to the AEZ provision:
- Limits the AEZ requirements to within the boundaries of the agricultural establishment.
- The handler/applicator is not responsible for implementing AEZ requirements off the establishment, where the owner lacks control over persons in the AEZ.
- No changes were made to the “Do Not Contact” provision that prohibits a handler/applicator and the handler’s employer from applying a pesticide in such a way that it contacts workers or other persons directly or through drift.
- Addresses issues raised about when handlers may resume an application that has been suspended
- Clarifies that handlers may resume a suspended application when no workers or other persons (other than appropriately trained and equipped handlers involved in the application) remain in an AEZ within the boundaries of the establishment.
- Adds language to allow applications to be made or resumed while persons not employed by the establishment are present on easements that may exist within the bounddepending on the terms of the easement, the owner or agricultural employer may be unable to control the movement of people (e.g., utility workers) within an easement. The “Do Not Contact” provision, however, still applies.
- Allows owners and their immediate family (as defined in 40 CFR 170.305) to shelter in place inside closed buildings, housing, or shelters within the AEZ, and allows applications performed by handlers to proceed provided the owner has instructed the handlers that only the owner’s immediate family are inside the closed shelter and that the application should proceed despite their presence.
- Clarifies and simplifies the AEZ requirements for outdoor production.
- Eliminates language and criteria pertaining to spray quality, droplet size, and volume median diameter, and using only “sprayed applications” as the criterion.
- Limits the criteria for 100-foot AEZ distances for outdoor production to pesticide applications made by any of the following methods: 1) aerially; 2) by air blast or air-propelled applications; or 3) as a fumigant, smoke, mist or fog.
- Establishes a 25-foot AEZ for all sprayed applications made from a height greater than 12 inches from the soil surface or planting medium, and no longer differentiate between sprayed applications based on the spray quality or other factors for setting different AEZ distances for outdoor production.
- Expands the exemption for owners of agricultural establishments and their immediate families to exempt them from the requirement to leave the AEZ when in an enclosed building.
- EPA anticipates family members will take appropriate steps to protect each other. Providing this exemption reduces burden on owners of agricultural establishments.
- This exemption should not negatively impact farm owners or their immediate families because family members will still be subject to the “do not contact” provision and other safety measures outside of the enclosed building.
- This revision should not impact WPS protections for farmworkers, handlers or their families because owners will still have to observe AEZ requirements for non-family-member employees or other persons on the establishment and must ensure applications will not contact anyone on or off the establishment.
The EPA is confident that the revised AEZ and existing no-contact provisions will ensure the protection of workers and persons in areas where pesticide applications are taking place.
Adapted from EPA Releases.
Pesticides; Agricultural Worker Protection Standard; Revision of the Application Exclusion Zone Requirements. Federal Register. Vol. 85, No. 211. Pg. 68760-68782.
2020 Final AEZ Provisions Frequently Asked Questions
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance will be holding their 2021 Annual Conference virtually on February 2-4, 2021.
Some features include:
Keynote Speaker Robert Saik
Food 5.0 How We Feed The Future
To feed the world in the next thirty years, farmers must increase food production by 60 to 70 percent. They need support from the general public that is unaware of how farming operates. Saik explains a farming future where new technologies like sensors, robotics, and machine learning make infinite sustainability achievable.
Keynote #2 Michelle Miller "The Farm Babe" and Kevin Folta
Genes and Pesticides – Communicating Complex Subjects with a Concerned Public
Some topics at this virtual conference include:
- COVID-19, Pesticides, and the Healthcare Workforce
- Recent updates to Hazardous Waste Rules
- How to Develop an Agricultural Waste Pesticide Collection Program
- Container Management – Recycling End Use Developments
- Use of Alternative Approved Respirators for Application
Registration information forthcoming. Check the TPSA website for updates.
The development and publication of this newsletter has been supported with funding from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Michelle Wiesbrook, Extension Specialist, Pesticide Safety Education
The Illinois Pesticide Review is published six times a year. For more information about pesticide safety or for more issues of this newsletter, please visit us at www.pesticidesafety.illinois.edu. You can also reach us at 800-644-2123.
Disclaimer: Mention of trade names in this newsletter is for general information purposes only and does not constitute endorsement of one product over another, nor is discrimination intended against any product.
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