BOISE-The popularity of a free Idaho State Department of Agriculture pesticide disposal program continues to increase significantly, as more farmers discover it is a safe and easy way to get rid of unusable pesticides.
The ISDA program allows farmers, dealers, applicators and homeowners to each dispose of up to 1,000 pounds of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or rodenticides every year without charge.
The department has collected a record amount of pesticides almost annually since the program started in 1993.
"It's jumping by significant amounts every year," said George Robinson, administrator of ISDA's agriculture resources division.
The ISDA collected and destroyed a total of 186,520 pounds of pesticides this year, shattering last year's record total of 134,391 pounds.
"Participation was amazing this year," said Victor Mason, who manages the program.
Pesticides can become unusable for a number of reasons, including loss of potency, exposure to temperature extremes, cancellation or suspension by state or federal authorities or a farmer's decision to change their cropping rotation or practices.
The ISDA conducted pesticide collections in the spring for residents of southwestern and northern Idaho and two fall collections served residents of eastern, southcentral and southwestern Idaho.
Canyon County in southwestern Idaho was the largest collection venue in the state, as growers and applicators turned in 75,402 pounds of unusable pesticides at a site in Nampa.
Meridian farmer Drew Eggers took about 500 pounds of sugar beet herbicide he could no longer use to the Canyon County collection site Oct. 14.
"It's a great program," he said. "I've taken some unused herbicides there the last four years, so I appreciate them doing that."
The ISDA has disposed of more than 1.5 million pounds of unusable pesticides since the program began.
Robinson said the huge increase in total collections this year may have been a result of the department increasing its advertising efforts in an attempt to reach those people who may still not be aware of the program.
"We've tried to be creative in finding ways to reach those folks," he said. "Apparently it's working."
In the early years of the program, many producers may have been reluctant to participate because they feared they could get in trouble for transporting pesticides in the back of their truck, Robinson said.
But the participation rate has grown as farmers become aware the program operates under the universal waste rule, which allows people to bring their old pesticides to collection sites as a pesticide and not as a hazardous waste.
The ISDA routinely investigated one or two cases of illegal pesticide dumping each year before the program began.
"One other significant benefit of the program is that since (it) started, the ISDA has not had a single case of illegal dumping of pesticides reported," Mason said.