On Sunday afternoon I was spraying my corn with Liberty and Atrazine. Because I always read and follow label directions I added the Atrazine in the field. The label on Atrazine says you should not apply it next a river or drainage ditch. I filled the sprayer, put the 5 gallons of Atrazine in the tractor cab and headed to the field. I sprayed along the drainage ditch first, then added the Atrazine and sprayed the rest of the field. Some might say why bother? Just mix the Atrazine at the farm and spray the whole field. Who would ever know?

Remember, it is a violation of Federal Law if you do not apply a herbicide according to label directions. Sure, the chances of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture finding out I did not follow the Atrazine label directions are small but it can happen. I get the Minnesota Department of Agriculture newsletter that lists enforcement actions that were taken. Last year a farmer received a $500 fine for not following the setback requirements for Atrazine!

There is another reason for following the label directions on Atrazine and all herbicides. If the Minnesota Department of Agriculture was concerned about farmers following label restrictions on herbicide, they could spot check a number of farmers. Because Atrazine is a restricted use herbicide they can get a list of every farmer that purchased Atrazine. Then they can spot check a number of farmers to see if they followed the label.

If I was one of the "lucky" farmers to be spot checked I would be contacted by someone with the Department and asked to see my records. I have to document when and where the herbicide was applied, the rates and other weather information. They can even take a soil sample along the drainage ditch and test to see if Atrazine was applied this year.

It that test came back from the lab positive it would not be an enjoyable experience. If the Minnesota Department of Agriculture found that a large percentage of farmers were not following the Atrazine label they could ban it in Minnesota. Yes, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has the power to approve or ban a herbicide in Minnesota.

Atrazine has been on the market for decades but it is used at much lower rates today. A pint an acre or one half pound makes many herbicides much more effective. There is not another herbicide on the market that works as well or is as cost effective as Atrazine. We do not want to see it taken off the market. So, Always read and follow label directions!