Private Applicators

Farmers and ranchers who use pesticides in their agricultural production can be licensed as Private Applicators if they need to purchase or use Restricted Use pesticides.

How do I get a Private Applicator license?

You must pass a written exam (70% or better) and pay the $15 license fee.

You can take the exam at any regularly-scheduled NMDA testing session (you must call ahead to reserve a spot). If you cannot make one of these sessions you can contact one of NMDA’s Pesticide Compliance inspectors and make an appointment.

Bring your ID and a check or money order for $15 to the exam session. After you take the exam it will be graded in Las Cruces, and if you pass you’ll receive your license in the mail. If you fail you will be notified and can re-take the exam at the next session.

Beginning in January 2015, you will have the option to apply for a license and take your exam online. Information will be posted on this page as soon as the system is ready.

Only persons who are producing agricultural commodities in New Mexico are eligible for a Private Applicator license.

Preparing for the Private Applicator exam

The exam covers several aspects of agricultural pesticide use:

  • How to use pesticides safely and effectively
  • Reading and understanding labels
  • Identification, biology, and control of agricultural insects, weeds, and diseases
  • NM Pesticide Control Act & Rules as they apply to Private Applicators
  • Federal laws that apply to Private Applicators, including the Worker Protection Standard and USDA Pesticide Recordkeeping requirements

The primary study material for private applicators is the National Pesticide Applicator Certification Core Manual. Other potentially useful sources of information are the Ag Pest & Weed Control Manual; WPS Handler Training videos; and the USDA Pesticide Recordkeeping video. These materials are available from NMDA, or your local County Agent may also have some. This Private Applicator Study Guide summarizes the things you should know for the exam.

Private Applicator licenses are good for five years. Before the expiration date you’ll receive a license renewal form in the mail. If you attended workshops and courses where you earned at least 5 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) during the five-year license period, you will be eligible to renew your license. Sign the license renewal form and mail it with the fee to NMDA. If you have not earned your CEUs you cannot renew your license and must take the exam again. Upcoming CEU workshops are posted here.

Controlling Gophers, Prairie Dogs and Other Burrowing Rodents

Gunnison's prairie dog

Gunnison’s prairie dog

Fumigant rodenticides – including Fumitoxin and Phostoxin pellets or tablets – cannot be used within 100 feet of any building that is or may be occupied by people or domestic animals. Their use is strictly prohibited on any residential properties, nursing homes, schools, hospitals, day cares, etc. Fumigants cannot be stored in a building where humans or domestic animals reside, and the place you store these products must be locked and posted.

A Fumigation Management Plan (FMP) must be prepared for all burrowing pest fumigations. The FMP and other label instructions will help ensure a safe, legal and effective fumigation. FMP templates are available from the dealer where you purchase a fumigant and from fumigant manufacturers, including Degesch and Cardinal Products.

After using burrow fumigants, applicators must inspect the treatment area and remove carcasses, to minimize the possible effect on non-target wildlife that may feed on them.

This NMDA flyer provides more details about these requirements and has information on correctly identifying Gunnison’s and Black Tailed prairie dogs. Always refer to your label for complete details.

Soil Fumigation

Soil Fumigants – including chloropicrin, dazomet, metam sodium/potassium, and methyl bromide – also have new safety requirements on their labels. These fumigants are sold under the brand names Telone, Vapam, K-Pam, and Terr-O-Gas, among others. This NMDA page discusses some of the new requirements. More information is available from EPA’s Soil Fumigant Toolbox.

Useful Links

Introduction to the Worker Protection Standard

Equipment calibration links from the Southern Region Pesticide Safety Education Program

Farm Safety from OSHA

Youth in Agriculture – Chemicals from OSHA

Southern Region IPM Center

Search for a pesticide on NPIC-MAPL or NPIRS

USDA Pesticide Recordkeeping Program

US EPA Pesticides Section

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