August 15, 2012
James N Seiber, University of California at Davis
Soil fumigants continue to be needed for the production of a number of valuable food commodities ranging from carrots and grapes to strawberries. One preplant application of soil fumigant chemicals or mixtures can control nematodes, weeds, and plant pathogens and protects the crop from planting to harvest. But the use of fumigants entails risks to the applicators and other farm workers as well as those residing or working in the vicinity of fumigated fields. Research data can provide information that addresses risks and assists in the communication of these risks to the public. Examples will be given for risks from airborne exposure to methyl bromide and chloropicrin, including the use of buffer zones, barriers, and other tools to minimize exposure. Risk communication associated with methyl bromide alternatives, and the potential for reduced risk approaches to control of soil pests in strawberry fields, will be discussed from a ‘lessons learned’ perspective.