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The Good Earth
by Dan Clost
by Dan Clost

email: dan.clost@sympatico.ca

First serious garden earned 25 cents from the Kemptville Horticultural Society when I was 12. Have been poor in horticulture ever since but rich in spirit.

Went to work writing the Good Earth column (over 500 articles published in newspaper, magazine, website and journal.) and learned that what was printed wasn't what I wanted to say and certainly not what Gentle Reader understood me to say. Subsequently have developed a certain clarity and economy of words.

Day job- nursery and production manager for a large nursery/garden centre
Side job- Garden restoration and renovations, design consultations, remedial pruning.
Night job- garden writer and communicator (overnight success in another 20 years)

Dan gardens in Canadian Zone 5b


May 18, 2003

We're continuing our examination of the pesticide controversy, focusing on Ontario. The ignition point seems to be the Hudson Ruling. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the Quebec Superior Court decision that recognised the municipality of Hudson's authority to ban the use of pesticides for cosmetic or ornamental purposes within its boundaries.

In Halifax, the city council has implemented a ban which, amongst other restrictions, grants residents the right to declare their property and a 100-metre buffer zone a pesticide free zone. In Vancouver, the City Parks department states that the city does not have the right to usurp the provincial mandate. One decision producing two diametrically opposite interpretations indicates that there will be more challenges. A review of the web sites shows that almost every major municipality in Canada has some form of by-law in the works or, minimally, an ad hoc committee reviewing the issue.

In Ontario, Bill 208, Municipal Amendment Act (Prohibiting Use of Pesticides), 2002 has made it through the second reading and is currently in committee. The Environmental Coalition of Ontario, with primary representation from Landscape Ontario, Industry, Ontario Parks Association and Ontario Golf Superintendents was formed so that the industry could respond efficiently and quickly. (This is reminiscent of Quebec's Rainbow Coalition.)

Gentle Reader; let's take a look at this issue from the perspective of the lawn care companies. These folk are taking a lot of flak, much of it unwarranted and frankly unfair.

Did you know of the more than 7,000 chemicals that are registered, the lawn care companies use approximately 7? Additionally, of the amount of pesticides used in Canada for non-agricultural purposes, lawn care companies use only about 2% or less. One reason for their being at the brunt of the issue is that their colourful trucks are very familiar to us. We recognise them. This can be akin to not seeing the forest (pesticide use as a whole) for the tree (cosmetic applications on Mr. Smith's front lawn).

Lawn care companies are providing a requested service. They did not create the need for their businesses, we, the public did. When you look at the product they use, to the method in which it is transported and stored, to the means and purposes for which it is applied, to the persons qualified to perform the application, to the signage, to the forms, you would find little to argue in the statement that this is probably one of the most regulated service professions in the country.

They have implemented a voluntary Integrated Pest Management Certification programme that is impressive. In essence, not only does each company have to pass a knowledge-based exam, they then have to document their actual work to prove reductions. Inspectors will visit sites, test technicians on the site without their employer handy, and will examine the paperwork. In other words, this is not a weekend workshop qualification meant to sound good in the press. This is a real effort to educate the industry, act responsibly towards the environment, and provide the service
that we are requesting.

A study at Laval University shows that a 61% reduction in pesticides is possible. Before we all go ga-ga over this, realise that there is a higher cost due to the increased man-hours required. Will Mr. and Mrs Smith be willing to pay that price?

Expect the phrase IPM to be used a lot. For clarification, here is a commonly agreed upon definition of IPM.

Integrated Pest Management - a decision-making process that uses a combination of techniques to suppress pests and which must include but is not limited to the following elements:

  1. planning and managing ecosystems to prevent organisms from becoming pests;
  2. identifying potential pest problems;
  3. monitoring populations of pests and beneficial organisms, pest damage and environmental conditions;
  4. using injury thresholds in making treatment decisions;
  5. reducing pest populations to acceptable levels using strategies that may include a combination of biological, physical, cultural, mechanical, behavioural and chemical controls;
  6. evaluating the effectiveness of treatments.

Note to readers: if you are interested in any of the facts or references mentioned please contact me.

 


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