Applying Herbicides to Control Invasive Plants on Public Lands - This provision to the Illinois Pesticide Act allows volunteers to apply herbicides to control invasive plants on public land without the need for pesticide licensing, provided they meet certain criteria.
Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) - For the most part, UAS-based pesticide applications are regulated identically to manned aerial pesticide applications, though there are several differences with regard to the FAA. [UAS, UAV, Drone]
Herbicides to Control Invasive Plants on Public Lands
The Illinois Department of Agriculture offers a provision that allows the Special Application of Herbicides to Control Invasive Plants on Public Lands. This provision allows volunteers to apply herbicides to control invasive plants on public land without the need for pesticide licensing, provided they meet the following conditions:
- Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and need to receive at least an hour’s worth of training. This training must include a review of the herbicide product or products’ label(s) that will be used, what it can/cannot be used on, application rates, application methods, first aid, potential environmental hazards, personal protective equipment, and any other information deemed appropriate by the trainer.
- The trainer must have a valid Rights-of-Way applicators license issued by the IL Dept. of Agriculture (IDA), and be a compensated employee of the organization that has direct control of the public lands.
- Products must carry the signal word “CAUTION” and not be classified as restricted-use.
- Only licensed applicators, including the trainer, can mix and load the product into the application devices. In other words, volunteers are given the application device (sprayers, wands) with the herbicide ready to apply.
- Trainers are also required to immediately provide to the IDA a list including name, address, telephone number, and birth date of all individuals who received the training, as well as the sponsoring organization. On top of that, the trainer shall provide IDA the date, location, trainer’s name, address, telephone number, pesticide applicator license number and expiration date, trainer’s organization and legible copy of the herbicide product label(s) used in the training session.
- Trainees will receive a certificate from the IDA, which then allows them to 1) apply those specific products used in the training only on 2) lands identified in the training, and 3) in the calendar year of the training.
The applicators license offers the most flexibility for controlling invasive weeds. It also allows for applications to non-public lands. The special provision is a suitable alternative for those to comply with the specific criteria.
Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS, UAV, Drone)
While the regulatory environment around UAS pesticide applications is rapidly evolving, the following certification components are currently required to legally apply pesticides from a UAS in the state of Illinois.
The first component is satisfying Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements. The details of which can be found on their Dispensing Chemicals and Agricultural Products (Part 137) with UAS page. In summary:
- Obtain a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA.
- Since you will be operating under 14 CFR Part 107 and 14 CFR Part 137, and will unlikely be able to completely satisfy the requirements of each, you'll need to petition the FAA for applicable exemptions. You can view examples of exemptions for drones conducting agricultural operations.
- Apply for an Agricultural Aircraft Operator Certificate (AAOC) from the FAA. This process is described in FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 137-1B.
The second component is satisfying Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDA) requirements. The details of which can be found on their Certification and Licensing page. In summary:
- Commercial Applicators should pass both the Aerial General Standards Exam, and any applicable category exams (Field Crops, Vegetable Crops, etc.). A license application form (mailed to you after the exam), license fee, and certificate of insurance with proper coverage (for-hire applicators only) will then be required to be submitted to IDA.
- Private Applicators should pass the Private Applicator Exam OR the Aerial General Standards Exam. A license application form (mailed to you after the exam) and license fee will then be required to be submitted to IDA.
The third component is adhering to all applicable pesticide labeling. No deviations from label requirements (including spray droplet size and application rate) are permitted.