Herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides – how to read Pesticide Labels

Plant diseases are often controlled either with the wrong pesticides or with the wrong dosage. In the first case, this is ineffective and costs the farmer unnecessary money. In the second case, misuse of pesticides poses a significant risk to users and the environment. Pesticide labels are legal documents and the best guide for getting detailed information on how to use pesticides in the most effective and safest way, such as, how to mix, apply, store and dispose of them. The use of any pesticide in a manner that does not comply with label directions and precautions is a violation of federal law. The manufacturers are obliged by law to provide information on the following points:

1. The Brand Name:

Many manufacturers give their products individual names, although it is a similar product with the same active ingredients. The brand name (or product/trade name) is mainly used to advertise the product.

2. Product Type:

Directly under the brand name, the product type usually indicates exactly what kind of pesticide it is. Depending on the symptom, the following subgroups can be summarized: herbicide, insecticide or fungicide

3. Ingredient Statement

Informs about the quantity in the percentage of each active ingredient as well as the total quantity of the inactive ingredients in the container.

4. Signal Words

The signal words provide important information about the toxicity of the product: For example, if you are faced with the choice between two products that fight the same pest, you can use the signal words to identify which product is the less toxic one. In general, a distinction is made between four toxic levels:

CAUTION (Category IV): Very low toxicity - Inhalation or oral dermal exposure may cause mild eye and skin irritation.

WARNING (Category III): Moderate toxic level; moderately irritated eyes or skin may be caused by inhalation, oral, or dermal ingestion. The Spanish word for warning "Aviso" also has to be on the label

DANGER (Category II): May provoke severe eye damage and skin irritation.

DANGER☠POISON (Category I): High toxicity by any kind of body contact; can be corrosive and result in irreversible damage to the skin or eyes. The Spanish Word for danger “Peligro” must also appear on the Label.

5. Registration- / Establishment Number

The Registration Number ensures that the product has been registered and approved for sale by an official state authority (for example: EPA, CIBRC). The Establishment Number identifies the facility where the product was fabricated

6. Net Content

The filling quantity of a full container. Furthermore, here you will also find the instructions for the dosage or mixing ratio.

7. Manufacturer Name and Address

The manufacturer's contact details to obtain further information on the product about toxicity, chemical properties and precautions that are important to emergency personnel in the event of an accident.

For the sake of the environment and your own safety, you should always read the instructions on the label before treating your crops with chemical inputs. If you have further questions about pesticides or a specific concern about chemical outputs, our Plantix Community experts will tell you everything you need to know.