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Pesticide use and integrated pest management: analysis of the Canadian nursery and landscape industry

Project Code: PRR10-160

Project Lead

Peter Isaacson - Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA)


To perform a gap analysis of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) research needs in the industry using existing national survey data. This information will also be used to update national crop profiles for Pesticide Risk Reduction.

Summary of Results


Commercial nurseries in Canada grow ornamental nursery stock, which include a diverse range of non-edible plant material ranging from woody plants to herbaceous perennials, grown in the field or in containers. As with any type of horticultural business, on a daily basis nursery growers deal with pests which must be prevented or controlled in order to avoid damage to crops. Surveys were conducted across Canada between 2002 and 2004 to assess pesticide use and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices by commercial nursery growers. The current project focussed on an analysis of the results from these surveys to establish baseline information on pesticide use and IPM adoption in commercial nurseries in Canada. This baseline data was then used to determine gaps in IPM research needs and implementation.


The original surveys were conducted by mail-out and FAX-out questionnaire, using the membership database of respective provincial associations. The pesticide use survey collected data from a total of 112 commercial nursery operations, accounting for almost 20% of all national nursery growing acres. The integrated pest management survey collected data from a total of 107 respondents, representing just over 20% of total nursery growing area in Canada.

Through this project data from 5 regions of British Columbia, the Prairies (including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes (including New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland) was combined and analyzed on a national level to obtain overall Canadian results. The gaps analysis for this project was based on these overall Canadian results.


In the pesticide use survey, growers reported using 211 pesticide products representing 117 active ingredients. The largest amount of pesticide product in kilograms used was in the category of insecticides (42%), followed by herbicides (39%) and then fungicides and bactericides (17%). Approximately 69% of chemical pesticide active ingredients were applied to nursery field production. Container nursery production accounted for a further 28% of pesticide use, while propagation accounted for 1.8% and yard/other 1.5%.

The most commonly used products were horticultural oils and phosphoric acid which accounted for 27.7% and 18.4% of all pesticide active ingredients reported in the survey. Other significant classes of active ingredients, by quantity used, included inorganics (for example, copper and sulphur) at 7.8%, organophosphates (6.9%) and amides/anilines (5.4%). Growers reported using many broad-spectrum pesticides such as organophosphates, carbamates (2.8%) and organochlorines (2.7%). These included products like diazinon, dimethoate, endosulfan and carbaryl which can disrupt naturally occurring insect predators and parasites and generally pose increased risk to workers.

The integrated pest management survey results indicated widespread knowledge of IPM concepts. Over 70% of growers across Canada answered that they practiced IPM, defined as "a dynamic decision-making process that emphasizes the use of non-chemical management techniques to prevent or manage pest problems". Depending on the type of production, results also indicated up to 80% of growers used pest monitoring in production areas. Fewer growers (less than 25%) monitored insects and diseases in perimeter areas. About 45 to 47% of nursery operators kept written or electronic records on their insect and disease pest management, but only about one quarter of nursery operators kept written records of weed management.

Growers currently practicing IPM indicated that the increased availability of reduced risk pest control products would be "very important" in improving their IPM programs. Other very important factors included improved knowledge of beneficial insects to control pests, increased training and education about IPM and a wider range of available chemicals. Of growers not currently practicing IPM the most common impediments to IPM adoption were: fear of crop failure, increased costs, lack of trained staff and uncertainty of economic benefits.

Pesticide Risk Reduction also produces crop profiles, documents covering crop production and pest management practices and issues on a commodity basis. The information generated from this project will be used to update the "Canadian Nursery Crop Profile". Crop profiles developed for other commodities are available on the Crop Profiles section of the Pest Management Centre website.

Next Steps

By establishing baseline data, key gaps in IPM adoption and pesticide risk reduction have been established. The industry is now positioned to develop a comprehensive strategy towards pesticide risk reduction. A strategy of this kind would identify potential IPM research projects to be conducted by the industry to improve adoption of IPM and pesticide risk reduction.

Resurveying the Canadian nursery industry for pesticide and IPM use to compare the data over a 10-year period would help to determine the success of the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association IPM program and improvements in growers’ adoption of IPM and pesticide risk reduction.

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