Sorting out fact from fiction

Lately, there has been a growing surge of discussion about the “green” movement, and debate as to how it impacts the lawn and landscape industry. Because “green” is a term that gets applied to many different topics, it tends to have many different connotations. No single definition would be all-encompassing and completely accurate. When used in reference to the lawn and landscape industry, folks are usually talking about reducing the hazards and the risks associated with managing pests and applying pesticides. The closest association found with the term “green” is EPA’s Reduced Risk Program. The EPA has done a nice job of providing guidance on pesticides that minimize the risks of hazards with their Reduced Risk Initiative, (www.epa.gov/opppmsd1/PR_Notices/pr97-3.html).

Initiated in 1993 and fully executed in1997, the EPA began this initiative with the goal “… to encourage development, registration and use of lower-risk pesticide products, which would result in reduced risks to human health and the environment.” Using specific risk-related criteria, the EPA has reviewed many pesticide compounds used in products over the years, and only a select few have earned the official “Reduced Risk” designation (www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/reducing.htm).

Photo Courtesy of Nancy Schwartz.
Acelepryn insecticide from DuPont Professional Products received Reduced-Risk classification by the EPA in 2007. The product was launched this year for grub control.

Most of these compounds are used in the agricultural arena, but are limited in the lawn and landscape industry. The first Reduced Risk-designated compound was hexaflumuron as a belowground termite bait by DowAgroSciences in 1994. More recently, the active ingredient indoxacarb received a Reduced Risk classification in 2000 based on its use to control insect pests on certain food crops, and had additional uses added in 2002. In 2004, DuPont Advion fire ant bait, containing indoxacarb, became the first fire ant control product in the industry to receive Reduced-Risk classification by the EPA. Since then, Dupont has released other products into the lawn and landscape industry that contain reduced-risk active ingredients, including Acelepryn insecticide launched this year for grub control. For a complete list of registered chemical/use combinations that have received Reduced Risk status since the inception of the Conventional Reduced Risk Pesticide Program, visit www.epa.gov/opprd001/workplan/reducedrisk.html.

This is good news for lawn care professionals. As you assess your business plans and prepare to answer your customers’ desire for high-performing yet low-impact products, you don’t have to wait for manufacturers to respond. Although few products offer both, there are some products currently to help you deliver this type of service and do it effectively.

Questions about green lawn care will continue to be raised by consumers, as well as fellow lawn care professionals over the next year. As you sort out scientific facts from marketing fiction, you will play a valuable role in educating your customers about what is green and how you can help them achieve green lawn care. So, when the subject turns to green, seek guidance from credible, government sources and rest assured you can arm yourself with the products that will deliver.

Nancy Schwartz is marketing manager for turf and ornamentals at DuPont Professional Products.

EPA Criteria for Reduced Risk

  • Low impact on human health
  • Low toxicity to nontarget organisms (birds, fish, plants)
  • Low potential for groundwater contamination
  • Lower use rates
  • Low pest resistance potential
  • Compatibility with integrated pest management (IPM) programs