February 1998 // Volume 36 // Number 1 // Research in Brief // 1RIB2

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Ohio Farmer Use Of The Pesticide Label

Significant human and monetary resources are expended for pesticide training. A descriptive study was conducted to measure pesticide label use of Ohio certified private pesticide applicators (OCPPA). A sample size of OCPPA was used to provide .95 confidence interval for the population parameters. Internal and external validity threats were examined and controlled in the study. OCPPA perceive the label to be very valuable when pesticides are used and they are reading the pesticide label at least one time per year. There are no differences in pesticide label reading (use) of OCPPA by level of education or acres farmed.

Steven C. Prochaska
Assistant Professor, Extension Agent
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Ohio State University Extension
Crawford County
Bucyrus, Ohio
Internet address: prochaska.1@osu.edu

Emma Lou Norland
Business & Administration Research & Evaluation
Associate Professor, Physical Activity
The Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio
Internet address: norland.2@osu.edu

In Ohio, county agriculture Extension personnel expend large amounts of human (3,011 hours in 1992) and monetary resources to conduct pesticide applicator training (Waldron, 1993). A large part of initial training involves teaching applicators pesticide label concepts and importance as an information service. Pesticide applicator behaviors inconsistent with label mandates could negatively affect food safety and thus harm human health and as well as the environment (Waldron & Goleman, 1989).

Reading and following pesticide label directions is intrinsic to safe pesticide use. An Illinois survey found that 68 percent of farmers read the pesticide label every or almost each time an application was made. (Pike, Glover, Knake, and Kuhlman, 1990). A component of a research project conducted in Ohio in 1993 was to describe the reported pesticide label use behaviors of Ohio Certified Private Pesticide Applicators (OCPPA), to examine their attitude about the value of the pesticide label and to determine differences of OCPPA pesticide label use by level of education and acres farmed.

Three objectives of the study were: (a) Description of OCPPA reported use (reading) of pesticide label; (b) Description of OCPPA attitude towards the value of pesticide label; and (c) Determine the differences of OCPPA reported pesticide label use by level of acres farmed and education.


A valid and reliable survey instrument was developed and administered by agricultural Extension agents at county level pesticide recertification sessions. Data were collected during the first three months of 1993 using a random cluster sampling approach. The target population of the study consisted of OCPPA members eligible to be recertified in 1993 and who applied pesticides in 1992. A sample of sufficient size was used to provide a .95 confidence interval for the population parameter. Completion of the survey and instrument was voluntary. With over 90 percent of OCPPA participating in the study, non-response (an external validity threat) was not considered significant.


Table of Means
Variable Mean Standard
Read (use) of pesticide label 4.29 .88 352
Attitude toward pesticide law use 4.38 .96 431

Analysis Of Variance Between OCPPA Reported Pesticide Use Behaviors and OCPPA Level Of Education
Group # Level of
Mean Standard
1 Some high school -1.80 4.8 6
2 High school graduate -.21 3.2 137
3 Some college or vocational school .37 2.9 55
4 College graduate .56 3.3 41
5 Advanced degree .85 3.2 7

Source D.F. S.S. M.S. F p
Between groups 4 50.38 12.60 1.2 .31
Within groups 241 2508.50 10.41
Total 245 2558.90

Analysis of Variance Between OCPPA Reported Pesticide Label Use and OCPPA Level of Acres Farmed
Group # Level of
Acres Farmed
Mean Standard
2 0-200 acres 4.5 .92 97
3 201-400 acres 4.2 .85 82
4 401-600 acres 4.2 .87 73
5 601-800 acres 4.3 .81 42
6 801-1000 acres 4.1 .93 22
7 1001 or more acres 4.1 .86 30

Source D.F. S.S. M.S. F p
Between groups 5 7.5 1.50 1.96 .08
Within groups 340 261.3 .77
Total 345 268.8

OCPPA Distribution of Attitude Toward Value of Reading the Pesticide Label
Descriptor Frequency Percent
1. Not valuable 13 3.0
2. Somewhat valuable 9 2.1
3. Valuable 42 9.7
4. Very valuable 106 24.6
5. Extremely valuable 261 60.6
Total 431 100.0


Reading (use) of the pesticide label was measured using eleven pesticide label components with a set of six descriptors. The following pesticide components were used in this measure: personal protective equipment instructions, signal word, environmental hazards, container disposal; application use rates; directions for tank mixes; crop rotation; emergency medical treatment; pesticide storage, field entry intervals, and pests controlled. The six descriptors for reading of the individual pesticide label component follow: (a) I typically don't; (b) Only when I have an emergency; (c) When I am using a pesticide for the first time; (d) At the beginning of the season; (e) I usually read this part each time I use a pesticide; and (f) I always read this part each time I use a pesticide.

To analyze data, the eleven component measure was summed, and a mean value was calculated for each case. The mean score for this variable was 4.29 (standard deviation of .88) which would indicate private pesticide applicators are reading the pesticide label typically at the beginning of the application season.

The attitude of OCPPA towards the value of pesticide label when applying pesticides was examined with a subjective measure. The descriptors and their frequency distribution are listed in the results. The mean calculated to be 4.38 would indicate OCPPA consider the pesticide label to be a very valuable piece of information when using pesticides.

To determine the relationship of the level of education on the reported pesticide use behaviors of OCPPA, a one-way analysis of variance procedure was used. There were five levels of education possible for OCPPA to choose from, ranging from some high school (1), to advanced degree (5). No significant differences existed between the levels of education on the dependent variable (p=.31), read pesticide label.

A one-way analysis of variance procedure was also used to determine differences between the levels of acres farmed by OCPPA and OCPPA use of the pesticide label. No significant differences were found between the levels of acres farmed by OCPPA on pesticide label use of OCPPA.

Results of this research project indicated that OCPPA considers the pesticide label to be a very valuable piece of information when applying pesticides and applicators are reading the pesticide label at least at the beginning of the season. There were no differences in OCPPA in reported label use by levels of age or acres farmed. Thus, a desired outcome of Extension teaching programs in Ohio, OCPPA reading the pesticide label before pesticide application, has been achieved.


Waldron, A. (1993). [Pesticide applicator training status, fiscal year 1992]. Unpublished raw data. Columbus: Ohio State University Extension.

Waldron, A. & Goleman, D.L. (1989). Pesticide Users Guide (Bulletin 745). Columbus: Ohio State University Extension.

Pike, D.R., Glover, K.D., Knake, E.L., & Kuhlman, D.E. (1990). Pesticide use in Illinois: results of a 1990 survey of major crops. Urbana: University of Illinois.