Pesticide discharge

This page highlights the pesticide discharge requirements under the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM Code).

Agricultural operator responsibilities

If you use and apply pesticides, you are responsible for understanding your pesticide:

  • Storage
  • Handling
  • Application
  • Disposal

Compliance and inspection

You must ensure regulatory standards are met and reasonable steps are taken to satisfy legal requirements.

Health Canada and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy have compliance officers that conduct inspections to ensure requirements under their jurisdiction are followed.


Applying pesticides

When applying pesticides, all agricultural operators must incorporate a basic level of environmental protection. This includes:

  • Preventing runoff contaminated with pesticides from entering watercourses, groundwater, or crossing property boundaries
  • Ensuring pesticide spray drift does not enter watercourses or groundwater
  • Taking precautions to prevent the unreasonable release of pesticide spray drift from crossing property boundaries
  • Keeping records to show how you are meeting the requirements of the AEM Code

Pesticide spray drift

Precautions must be taken when applying pesticides to minimize pesticide spray drift crossing property boundaries.

Recommended precautions


Follow the pesticide label

Pesticide labels are legal documents. It's the law to follow them.

Information on the pesticide label identifies proper:

  • Storage
  • Handling
  • Application
  • Disposal

Pay attention to the weather

Monitor the wind speed and direction.

  • Use a wind meter to check wind speed
    • The greater the wind speed, the greater the spray drift

Track temperature and humidity.

  • High temperatures coupled with low relative humidity cause pesticide droplets to become smaller, volatilize and become vapour. This increases the potential for drift

Use the right application method and rate

Calibrate equipment before applying pesticides. Proper calibration of equipment can minimize spray drift.

  • Equipment calibration should be verified as part of normal sprayer setup and use
    • Make adjustments to ensure compliance with application requirements

Use the proper nozzle for the job. Nozzle selection has the greatest influence on droplet size

  • Low-drift nozzles are designed to produce larger spray droplets with less drift
  • Use nozzles with the minimum possible spray angle
    • Narrower fan angles produce larger droplets

Adjust your equipment

  • Use the right spray pressure for your nozzle
    • Lower pressure produces larger droplets
  • Use lower spray boom heights to keep nozzles as close to the target as possible
    • The less distance between the nozzle and target, the less likely the spray is to drift
  • Drive at a slower speed
    • Slower travelling speed reduces spray drift by decreasing air turbulence behind the boom

Read about Airblast Sprayer Calibration (PDF, 585KB)


Plant a vegetative barrier

A barrier, such as a cedar hedge, can minimize pesticide drift.

  • You can also leave a designated no-spray zone between non-target areas such as the neighbouring property and spray areas

Pesticide application resources

For the public and agriculture

For schools