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Recordkeeping for Private Pesticide Applicators in Montana

This article will discuss the legal responsibilities of private applicators when recording their pesticide applications. This includes a discussion of federal United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) pesticide record-keeping requirements governing all pesticide applications, as well as occasional Worker Protection Standard (WPS) requirements when pesticides are applied to an agricultural commodity.

Last Updated: 06/22
by Dr. Cecil Tharp, MSU Pesticide Education Specialist; and Amy Bowser, MSU Pesticide Education Technician from previous version by Reeves Petroff, MSU Pesticide Education Specialist


applicators keep records of any federally restricted-use pesticide they use. Restricted-use pesticides (RUPs) have a high potential to cause harm to humans, animals or environment. The pesticide label will indicate if a product is a RUP.

You cannot legally purchase or apply a RUP unless you are properly certified. While it is a legal requirement of private applicators to keep records of RUP applications; keeping records for all pesticides you apply is a good business practice and has numerous benefits.

Remember, the term “pesticide” includes herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides, and fungicides, among others.

USDA Recordkeeping format

While there is no standard form for keeping pesticide application records, there is a standard format. Pesticide recordkeeping regulations require certified private pesticide applicators to record the following information within 14 days of the application and they must maintain these records for two years following the application. This is for each RUP treatment applied on the same day.

USDA Required recordkeeping elements

Failure to properly record the following items may result in a referral to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for further action, potentially leading to a civil penalty, and may result in fines of $500 or more.

1. The applicator’s name and applicator ID. Montana private applicator’s license numbers end with “–11” and are noted on the license card above the applicator name. If the application was made by someone who is not certified but was under the supervision of a certified private applicator, then record the name and number of the certified applicator supervising the application.

2. The exact month, exact day and exact year of the application. Do not use phrases such as “between August 23 and 28” or “end of May.” Be specific.

3. The location of the application. Record the actual location of the treated area, not the address of the farm or business. Your goal is to be able to identify the exact area of the application two years later if requested. The law allows any of the following designations: (1) legal property descriptions, (2) maps or written descriptions, (3) identification systems and maps used by government agencies, and (4) any applicator- derived method that can accurately pinpoint the sprayed area.

4. The size of the area treated. This information should be recorded in a unit of measure normally expressed on the pesticide label, usually in acres. For band applications, record the total area covered. For example, if an 80-acre field is band sprayed, the entire 80 acres would be recorded as the “size of area treated.” Also include linear feet, bushels, bin size, cubic feet and number of animals. Knowing your sprayer’s calibration will help you determine the size of the area treated. Use the following basic formula:

Acres treated = Volume of pesticide mix used (gallons) / Sprayer output in Gallons Per Acre (GPA)

Example: Gallons of water/pesticide sprayed = 300 gallons
Sprayer calibration = 30 Gallons Per Acre (GPA)
Acres sprayed = 10 acres (300 gallons ÷ 30 GPA)

Example: Gallons of water/pesticide sprayed = 5 gallons
Backpack sprayer = 80 GPA
Acres sprayed = 0.0625 acres (5 gallons ÷ 80 GPA)

5. The crop, commodity, stored product, or site to which the pesticide was applied. Refer to the pesticide label. Labels can be very specific as to what sites may or may not be treated.

6. The total amount of undiluted pesticide applied and not the total solution after water or other substances have been added. This does not refer to the percent of active ingredient. Do not indicate “labeled rate.” If the label states the pesticide is to be measured in pints or ounces, then record the amount in those measurements. Again, knowing your sprayer’s calibration will help you determine the total amount applied. Use the following formula:


Amount used = Acres sprayed x Labeled rate per acre

Example: Sprayer Calibration = 30 GPA
Total mixture sprayed = 300 Gallons
(Acres Sprayed = 10 acres)
Labeled rate per acre = 1 pint per acre
Total undiluted amount used = 10 pints
(10 acres x 1 pint per acre)

Example: Backpack calibration = 80 GPA
Total mixture sprayed = 5 gallons
(Acres sprayed = 0.0625 acres)
Labeled rate per acre = 1 quart per acre
(32 ounces per acre)
Total undiluted amount used = 0.0625 quarts
(0.0625 acres x 1 quart) or;
2 ounces (0.0625 quarts x 32 ounces)

7. The trade, brand or product name of the RUP is the name under which the product is sold. The common name is the name of the active ingredient found in the pesticide formulation. For example, Tordon 22K® is the trade, brand or product name of picloram, the common name for the active ingredient found in this herbicide. Ally® and Escort® are the brand or trade names for the chemical metsulfuron-methyl.

8. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Registration Number found on the label. The registration number is not the same a s the EPA Establishment Number also located on the label and tells where the pesticide was manufactured.

Recording spot treatments

Spot treatments are especially useful in the control of noxious weeds. A spot treatment is defined as the use of a RUP on the same day where the total area treated is less than 1/10 of an acre (4,356 square feet). This could be 1/10 of an acre of weeds within a 5-acre pasture.

You are required to record a detailed location description of the “spot application”. For example, “spot treatment – treated for noxious weeds in Fields A and C” or “spot treatment along road to grain bins.”


Sprayer output is 50 GPA. Five gallons of a herbicide mixture was sprayed to control spotted knapweed in Field 6, a 10-acre pasture. The total sprayed area was 1/10 acres (5 gallons ÷ 50 GPA). You would note the following in your records under location: “Spot application for noxious weeds in field 6.”

Using the example above, say you had mixed a rate of 1 pint of restricted-use herbicide per acre. You would have applied 0.1 pints of undiluted pesticide over Field 6. (0.1 acres of weeds were actually sprayed x 1 pint per acre = 0.1 pints of undiluted product.)

If you applied any amount greater than 5 gallons of solution, then you have exceeded the legal definition for a spot treatment. For example, if you applied 10 gallons of solution over the 10 acres, you sprayed 0.20 acres (10 gallons÷ 50 GPA) within the 10-acre pasture, which is in violation of Federal recordkeeping requirements for spot treatments.

The spot treatment provision excludes greenhouse and nursery applicators, who are required to keep all data elements as listed.

Optional items to consider

Optional information, though not legally required, may be useful to applicators for a variety of reasons including:

  • determining resistance of pests
  • general effectiveness of a pesticide
  • deterring liability in a pesticide dispute

Helpful optional items include the restricted entry interval, application rate of chemical, calibrated rate of sprayer, surfactants, nozzle type, wind speed, temperature and direction.

Who has access to restricted-use pesticide records?

The USDA administers the federal pesticide recordkeeping program while the Montana Department of Agriculture conducts inspections of RUP records. Others who have legal authority to inspect your RUP records include:

  • Other USDA-authorized representatives who present identification.
  • Other state-authorized representatives who present identification.
  • Attending licensed health care professionals or those acting under their direction, USDA representatives, and State regulatory representatives with credentials.

Worker Protection Standard (WPS) Requirements

Pesticide applicators who use any (i.e. general or restricted use) pesticides with an “Agricultural Use Requirements” box on the label applied to crops or agricultural commodities will need to record some additional information as required by WPS. In addition to the USDA recordkeeping requirements WPS applicators must record the following information:

  • active ingredients
  • time of application
  • Restricted Entry Interval (REI)

WPS records must be kept for two years from the expiration date of the REI. More information on WPS can be found at

For more information

Applicators may wish to order the “Pesticide Record Keeping Handbook & Calibration Guide for Private Applicators” from MSU Distribution at (406) 994-3273 or This guide includes all USDA and WPS required recordkeeping information.

For further information contact your local MSU Extension agent. Information is also available from the following sources:


U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pesticide Records Branch

8609 Sudley Road, Suite 203
Manassas, VA 20110
Phone: (703) 330-7826
Fax: (703) 330-6110


Montana Department of Agriculture

P.O. Box 200201
Helena, MT 59620-0201
Phone: (406) 444-3730
Fax: (406) 444-7336


Montana Pesticide Education Program

PO Box 172900
Montana State University Bozeman, MT 59717-3020
Phone: (406) 994-5067
Fax: (406) 994-5589

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