Pollinator health information for crop growers

Pollinator health information for crop growers

Neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed requirements

As part of the broader strategy to protect pollinators, Ontario introduced new rules on July 1, 2015, to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds

The requirements (Ontario Regulation 63/09) created Class 12, a new class of pesticides for corn and soybean seeds treated with three neonicotinoid insecticides (NNI): imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin. The Regulation also includes new rules for the sale and use of treated seeds, which restricts the use of NNI-treated corn and soybean seed to those areas where there is a demonstrated need. The regulation is being phased in to help farmers adapt to the new requirements.

Starting on August 31, 2016, farmers will need to submit the following to their sales representative, vendor or custom seed treater to purchase or plant neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed:

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) certificate number

  • After successful completion of the IPM Course for Corn and Soybeans, growers will become certified (Visit ipmcertified.ca to register and learn more). Farmers are able to take IPM training in a classroom at various locations or online through the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus. Certification is valid for five years after the date of completion (i.e. farmers will only need to take the course once every five years). Visit ipmcertified.ca to register and learn more. To date, over 10,000 farmers have successfully completed the training course.

Pest Assessment Reports

  • Pest Assessment Reports (Inspection of Soil)
    • A report(s) is needed for every 100 acre (or smaller) field/plot in which you intend to plant NNI-treated corn or soybean seed. NNI-treated corn or soybean seed can only be planted in the application areas on the farm property(ies) identified in the pest assessment reports.
    • New Digital Inspection of Soil Pest Assessment Report (PAR) Form
      • A new digital version of the Inspection of Soil - Pest Assessment Report (PAR) form launched on Monday July 31, 2017.
      • The digital form makes it easy for producers to submit the form to treated seed vendors as part of the process of purchasing Class 12 pesticides, and for treated seed vendors to meet the requirements to submit PAR forms to OMAFRA.
      • The digital Inspection of Soil PAR form can be completed and submitted online.
      • The new digital form includes a link to AgMaps - an online mapping tool, to assist producers in completing the required sketch portion of the PAR form.
  • Pest Assessment Reports (Inspection of a Crop)
  • A written declaration that states IPM principles have been considered.

Learn more about the NNI-treated corn and soybean seed requirements at ontario.ca/neonics

Resources for the NNI-treated corn or soybean seed requirements

Here's a list of resources to help crop growers understand and adopt the requirements for NNI-treated corn or soybeans.

General information
Scouting and Pest Assessment information

To print copies for upcoming industry meetings, please contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 for PDF versions of the resources above.

Best management practices for reducing the risk to pollinators

The following Best Management Practices (BMPs) are provided to reduce the risk to bees and other insect pollinators from exposure to dust from treated seed. While the BMPs provide many options, for best results, combine multiple options whenever possible.

Read and adhere to the pesticide label and seed tag directions

Directions for use on pesticide product labels or on treated seed labels [such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and buffer zones] must always be followed in order to minimize risks to human health and the environment.

Practice Integrated Pest Management when choosing seed treatments

Practicing integrated pest management (IPM) is essential for sustainable pest control. This approach can include cultural practices to discourage pests (e.g., crop rotation), correct identification of the pest problem and risk factors.

Develop and maintain shared communication with beekeepers to help protect honeybees

Communication and cooperation among growers, custom operators and beekeepers on the timing of planting treated seed and the location of hives can help to reduce the risk of bee incidents. This communication will enable growers to know which fields have hives located close by. Beekeepers will benefit from advanced notice of planting, allowing them to take actions to temporarily protect or relocate hives where feasible, and ensure clean water sources are provided.

  • Beekeepers should inform growers of hive locations.
  • Growers should inform beekeepers of timing of planting treated seed and pesticide applications.

Recognize pollinator habitat and take special care to reduce dust exposure

Bees collect pollen and nectar from flowering crops, trees and weeds, as well as water from puddles and moist soil in or beside fields. Pollinators can be exposed to treated seed dust when it is carried in the air or deposited on food and water sources.

  • During planting season, weeds such as dandelions and flowering trees, including maples, willows, hawthorns and apples, etc., are important pollinator foraging resources.
  • Dust emitted through planter exhaust may be transported under all weather conditions. Pollinator exposure may be increased under very dry and/or windy conditions which favour dust transport. Avoid planting treated seed under these conditions if flowering resources, standing water or bee yards are located downwind and follow best practices to reduce dust exposure.
  • Control flowering weeds in the field before planting so that pollinators are not attracted to in-field forage.

Managing planting equipment to decrease dust drift

Research indicates significant levels of neonicotinoid concentrations are exhausted from negative vacuum planters during planting and may be susceptible to leaving the fields via drift.. Limited information is available on the extent of exposure through other planter types. All growers should take care to reduce/control insecticide containing dust exhausted from planters.

  • Follow the directions provided by planting equipment manufacturers and keep up-to-date on new use practices.
  • Clean and maintain planting equipment regularly, including the fan housing and hoppers of air-assisted planters. For example, vacuum any dust remaining in the fan housing and hopper.
  • Use deflector equipment, where appropriate, to direct exhaust to the ground level and thus reduce dust drift.

Avoid generating dust when handling and loading treated seed

  • Handle bags with care during transport, loading and unloading in order to reduce abrasion, dust generation and spillage.
  • Do not load or clean planting equipment near bee colonies, and avoid places where bees may be foraging such as flowering crops, trees or weeds.
  • When turning on the planter, avoid engaging the system where emitted dust may contact honey bee colonies or foraging pollinators.

Use appropriate seed flow lubricant

Seed flow lubricants may affect the generation of dust during planting.

  • Only a dust-reducing fluency agent is permitted with corn or soybean seed treated with insecticides clothianidin, thiamethoxam, or imidacloprid (e.g. Poncho, Cruiser, Gaucho, Stress Shield, etc.). Carefully follow the use directions on the fluency agent label.

Ensure proper clean-up and disposal

Take care when cleaning up after planting seed and follow provincial/municipal disposal requirements:

  • Spilled or exposed seeds and dust must be incorporated into the soil or cleaned-up from the soil surface.
  • Keep treated seed and dust away from surface water.
  • Do not leave empty seed bags or left-over treated seed in fields or the environment.
  • Participate in collection programs for seed bags where available.

Report suspected pollinator pesticide poisonings

For suspected pollinator poisonings related to planting of treated seed or pesticides, contact the appropriate federal / provincial authority.

See the Health Canada's pollinator protection web page for appropriate federal and provincial contacts and additional information.

Enhance pollinator-friendly habitat on the farm

Enhancing habitat for pollinators around your farm will not only have an impact on improving pollinator health, but will also help to improve crop yields in pollinator-dependent crops. Managing the areas near your home, farm buildings, field margins and marginal lands to retain native flowers, plants and trees that provide blossoms throughout the growing season, and providing nesting sites, will contribute to improving pollinator habitat.

Ways to enhance pollinator habitat on your farm operation:

  • Increase flower diversity in surrounding croplands and orchards by planting wildflowers and native plants, where feasible
  • Plant wildflowers and native perennials in hedgerows, field margins and buffer strips to provide nesting and non-crop forage sites
  • Choose native perennials that bloom before and after orchard blossoms to establish pollinators in the area
  • Install artificial nesting boxes such as trap nests or "bee hotels" to provide alternate nesting sites for pollinators
  • Minimize mowing of roadsides and marginal lands to increase availability of flowers
  • Maintain natural and semi-natural land adjacent to croplands, where possible

Government programs and resources

Learn about Programs and Services for Ontario Farmers.

Access various crop production resources.

Learn more

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca