COVID-19 might have much of the world social distancing, but agricultural crops still must be planted, and producers still have regulations to follow. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is ready to help the process.
Agricultural producers needing auxin training can still turn to AgriLife Extension for their continuing education credits, CEUs, despite the COVID-19 cancellation of all in-person meetings and trainings.
“Texas A&M AgriLife efforts to help people with their pesticide recertification and auxin training continues,” said Dan Hale, Ph.D., associate director for ag and natural resources and Path to the Plate director. “We were already planning to offer these trainings online beginning this year within our AgriLife Extension county offices. There they would have had to be proctored. However, now we have the proctoring requirement lifted, so producers can take the course online in their homes.”
Online auxin CEUs
In addition to participating in any online webinars scheduled by local county agents, producers can gain access to the course by going to AgriLife Learn pest and weed control online courses or by this direct link.
This auxin training qualifies for one CEU of laws and regulations. To receive a certificate of completion for the course, participants must obtain a score of 100% on the online Auxin Specific Applicator Test. The learner may retake the test as often as is necessary.
“The Environmental Protection Agency revised dicamba labels for Engenia, FeXapan, Tavium and Xtendimax labeling these herbicides federally ‘restricted-use’ pesticides, thereby relegating their use to licensed pesticide applicators only nationwide,” said Don Renchie, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension program leader and coordinator for the Pesticide Safety Education Program, College Station. “Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology, a dicamba premix with s-metolachlor, received a federal label in 2019 and is the fourth approved dicamba for use in dicamba-tolerant cotton.”
In addition to being federally restricted-use pesticides, these dicamba products are ‘state-limited-use’ pesticides in Texas, requiring Auxin Specific Applicator Training annually prior to use, Renchie said.
Also, Texas Department of Agriculture added 2,4-D choline formulations – Enlist Duo and Enlist One – for use on 2,4-D-tolerant crops to be included in these mandatory Auxin trainings, he said. These 2,4-D herbicides are State-Limited-Use pesticides, and they can be sold to and used only by certified applicators or those working under the supervision of a certified applicator. Annual auxin training is also required prior to their use.
Many auxin trainings had been planned by AgriLife Extension around the state, but those occurring in the next few months had to be canceled, said Scott Nolte, AgriLife Extension state weed specialist, College Station.
However, because the label states only certified applicators may apply dicamba over the top of the crop, many producers still need to take the course, Nolte said. AgriLife Extension trained more than 7,000 producers in 2018 and 4,500 in 2019. The 2020 training started in December and typically continues into mid-summer.
Private applicator training CEUs
Nolte clarified that the auxin trainings are not a substitute for the state-specified private applicator training, which is required for producers to purchase and use restricted-use, as well as state-limited use pesticides.
“AgriLife Extension specialists and county agents provide training that qualifies for CEUs statewide, however, the credits are also provided by various third parties, which TDA requires to seek approval prior to conducting any activities statewide,” said Mark Matocha, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension specialist with the Pesticide Safety Education Program, College Station.
Matocha said AgriLife Extension faculty are working with TDA and the private sector to “determine how to best meet audience needs during this time.”
Many AgriLife Extension programs are expected to be shifted to online delivery. A plan for those programs for the remainder of March and into April will be announced by AgriLife Extension administration. CEUs for programs will be offered as permitted and within required guidelines.