By Mike Jaspers, South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture
Spring is upon us here in South Dakota! The pastures are greening; lambing and calving are under way; and planting is just around the corner. The weather is getting nicer allowing all of us to spend some more time outside, enjoying the beauty South Dakota has to offer. Whether fishing on the Missouri, checking calves from horseback or simply listening to the birds while enjoying a morning cup of coffee, we have much to appreciate and enjoy. We also all have a responsibility to do our part to protect our natural resources so that our kids, grandkids and their grandkids can enjoy the beauty of our great state. That is a responsibility producers and your department of agriculture take very seriously.
Although for those of us in agriculture who depend on the land for our livelihood, every day is Earth Day, this year we officially celebrate Earth Day April 22. From a young age, we have all learned about the importance of recycling. This is especially important for agricultural producers as they ensure the proper disposal of pesticides and pesticide containers.
The department of agriculture offers a pesticide container collection service at almost 40 locations around the state. Producers can drop off their rinsed containers at these locations, at no charge. After containers are collected, they are ground into small pieces and sent to facilities to be made into products like drain tiles, speed bumps or fence posts. Over the past two decades, more than two million containers have been recycled in the state.
Sometimes pesticides, both for agriculture and household use, are found that can’t be identified or are unusable. In situations when it is not safe to use these products, they should be properly disposed of. The department’s waste pesticide program is also available at no cost to make sure chemicals are disposed of in a way that protects the environment. If you have any unidentified chemicals and would like assistance disposing of them, please call (605.773.4432) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). There is a form that needs to be completed to assist with coordination of picking them up. Since 1993, the department has collected and properly disposed of over one million pounds of unidentified chemicals.
The first Earth Day was celebrated just one month after I was born. Agriculture has changed dramatically over my lifetime, but the care that producers have for the land has not. Proper disposal of pesticides and recycling of containers is just one thing we do to be the best possible caretakers of the earth that we can be.