Q: I recently got a chemical applicator’s license and plan on offering chemical site preparation to landowners as part of my service. I don’t have a pilot’s license, so all of the site prep will be done from the ground with an ATV and a skidder modified for chemical applications. Are there any special BMPs that I need to follow when I spray?
A: As many of you probably guessed, there is a section in the Bluebook that deals the application of silvicultural chemicals. Silvicultural Chemicals are addressed in section 8.0 and begin on page 24 of the Bluebook. This section provides information on both ground and aerial application of chemicals.
The first thing you want to do is to familiarize yourself with the chemical’s characteristics. You should read the label and the Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the chemical you are working with and follow all instructions. The next part of the planning process is to be familiar with the topography, soils, and drainage pattern of the land you will be working on in addition to any other factors that might be important for preventing water pollution during application.
You need to inspect your equipment for leaks. Leaks can lead to areas of high concentration of the chemical you are using and present a danger of direct chemical application into surface waters.
During ground application, carefully plan applications to avoid direct and indirect entry of chemicals into streams and other impoundments. Use extreme caution in areas immediately adjacent to open water. Special care should be taken when chemicals are used in the streamside management zone (SMZ). Avoid applying chemicals to vegetation protecting eroded slopes, gullies, drainages, and other fragile areas subject to erosion. Exercise care not to exceed intended or allowable dosages. Avoid chemical application during windy conditions that may cause unintended drift.
Aerial application guidelines are very similar to those of ground application. When conducting an aerial application you should also carefully plan application to avoid direct and indirect entry of chemicals into streams and other water bodies. Leave well-marked buffer zones between the target area and surface water. Realize that significant portions of the SMZ will probably be left untreated. Chemicals should not be applied when stream pollution is likely to occur through aerial drift. A spray device capable of immediate shutoff should be used. Shut off chemical application during turns and over open water.
During any type of application of chemicals, should a spill occur, shovel up a dike around the spill. Use absorbent materials (kitty litter, slaked lime, sawdust, soil, etc.) to soak up fluids. Keep the spill from flowing into streams or bodies of water. Some spills will require that you notify the appropriate authorities.
You can get a copy of the Bluebook at your local Texas Forest Service office or you can view it online at http://txforestservice.tamu.edu/water. If you have any questions regarding BMPs please contact me.
* This article was published in the October 2003 issue of the Texas Logger