Cosmetic pesticide ban means dandelions more expensive to fight
New biological pesticides too expensive for mass application, city says
A province-wide cosmetic pesticide ban that came into effect last June means homeowners and lawn care companies have had to find new ways to battle weeds. The most visible of which, are dandelions.
And it'll cost you.
"There's not a lot of choices. You can dig them out...or you can apply these new bio-weed controls that are available to us," said David Hinton, president of Weed Man in Winnipeg.
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The product of choice is called Fiesta. It's an iron-based product that when applied to lawns will kill the weeds but the grass recovers quickly from it.
For the average homeowner the cost of having a lawn professionally treated throughout the season may be $80 to $100 more than it was before the ban came into effect.
But for the city, that cost grows exponentially.
"We're talking about huge fields [where] it has to be applied to two or three times in the spring. That's a pretty expensive product to use," said Rodney Penner, city naturalist.
The city's approach to dealing with the yellow blooms is to mow them. That's because the cost of treating them with a province-approved pesticide is financially out of reach.
"If we would do the number of applications indicated for Fiesta it would be about $560,000," said Penner.
"There's a lot of things to consider, it's not just the cost of the product. It also has to be applied at heavier rates and it has to be applied multiple times throughout the season," said Penner.
Applying the product multiple times adds staffing and equipment costs, which are not currently in the budget.
Weeding out pesticide use tough to track
While lawn care experts are seeing results with the new product, and complying with new rules, homeowners seem to be confused as to what options they have.
"We've heard of people buying products down in Grand Forks [but] it's against the law to use those in Manitoba. There are people that I've heard ... [who] have a farmer friend that are getting agricultural product to put on their lawn," said Hinton.
Hinton says people are often confused about what they can use because the banned products are still available in stores for certain uses.
Home and garden stores lock up chemicals that are used to treat specific problems that pose health risks, like poison ivy, but there's nothing that guarantees those products are used as directed.
"We do see people buying the banned products. They are being sold the banned products, which we don't agree with," said Hinton.
Hinton says he'd like to see more enforcement when it comes to certain products, but admits it's hard to track what individuals might be using on their lawns.
"It's pretty difficult to catch people by the light of the moon treating their weeds," he said.
The province says it believes businesses are largely in compliance with the new regulations and that they worked with retailers in 2015 to educate them about the new law.