Notes from the Sonoma County Ag Commissioner

Written By: Admin
Published: May 1, 2018

Pest Detection Trapping Program

The Sonoma County Department of Agriculture deploys and services various exotic insect pest detection traps throughout the county in both agricultural and urban environments. This trapping effort is to detect the presence of exotic insect pests before they establish a population and become very hard to eradicate.

This program detects the presence of fruit fly pests and other injurious plant pests that have the potential to devastate agriculture and forestry industries as well as native ecosystems. Insects targeted for detection by our county pest detection trapping program include the Mediterranean, Oriental, Melon, and Mexican fruit flies, Japanese beetle, and Gypsy moth.

The trapping programs are seasonal beginning in February and concluding in late October. We take great pride in working on the front lines to help keep our county safe from injurious insect pests.

Changes to Worker Protection Standard

In January 2017, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation updated its regulations to match the revised USEPA Worker Protection Standard. Below are some of the highlights of these changes. The complete text of regulations with changes may be viewed at

Fieldworker and Handler Safety Training

  • Fieldworker training is required annually. The employer must maintain the training record for two years and must provide the record to the fieldworker upon request.
  • Beginning March 2018, handler and fieldworker safety training content has been expanded to include additional topics. A summary of the additional topics may be found at
  • Annual training records must include the employee’s printed name and signature, the title and sources of the training materials used, employer’s name, and the trainer’s name and qualifications.

Posting, Notification, and Hazard Communication Requirements

  • The operator of the property shall assure that treated fields are posted whenever required by pesticide labeling or for any application that results in a restricted entry interval of greater than 48 hours, unless access to the treated field is controlled in a manner that assures no employee (other than the handlers making the application) will enter, work in, remain, or walk within 1/4 mile during the application and the restricted entry interval.
  • The A-8 and/or A-9 must be posted at all permanent decontamination facilities and decontamination facilities servicing 11 or more handlers or fieldworkers. Any changes to the A-8 or A-9 relating to the name, address, or telephone number of the facility providing emergency medical care must be updated within 24 hours.

Decontamination Sites

At least three gallons of water per handler (measured at the beginning of each handler’s workday) must be available at decontamination sites for pesticide handlers for washing hands, face, entire body, and for emergency eye flushing.

  • When a pesticide handler is at the mixing/loading site there must be immediate access to gently running water at a rate of at least 0.4 gallons per minute for at least 15 minutes, or at least six gallons of water in containers suitable for providing a gentle eye-flush for about 15 minutes, if the pesticide labeling requires protective eyewear or a closed mixing system is used.

Water required to be available at decontamination sites for fieldworkers must be at least one gallon per employee or three gallons for fieldworkers engaged in early entry activities.

  • The water must be provided at the start of each work day and be of a quality and temperature safe for swallowing and skin or eye contact. The water must be separate from water used for mixing pesticides.

Farm Market Scales

Attention farm market vendors, farm stand owners, and scale operators: if you plan to use a scale to sell produce, there are a few things to know to keep in compliance with California law. Before purchasing a scale, make sure the scale is a “legal for trade” scale. Every scale approved for commercial use (buying and selling) will have a Certificate of Conformance (CC) issued by the governing state or federal agency. Manufacturers that want to sell a specific scale as a commercial scale must first obtain a CC from either of these agencies. As part of the certification process, scales undergo a range of tests that assess specification and performance functions in different environmental conditions. Scales passing these tests receive a CC and may be sold and used as commercial scales. Scales lacking a CC may not be used for commercial applications. Make sure the scale you purchase is appropriate for your particular application. Will you be selling watermelons or herbs? This is crucial if the price per pound value of the commodity you are selling is high, such as herbs. The scale accuracy should be more refined as the value of the product increases and you should never weight anything on your scale that registers less than 20 scale divisions.

Scales offer choices in style and function. Some scales are mechanical in nature while others are digital/electronic. Mechanical scales typically mix units of measure such as pounds and ounces (16 ounces equals one pound). Some users may find this confusing, especially if they have to compute a final purchase price. Mechanical scales do not require external power but typically require the operator to determine the final purchase price of the commodity they are selling. Digital scales may offer a computing function that determines the final purchase price once the scale operator has entered a price per pound. Digital scales do require an external power source.

After you purchase your commercial scale, be sure to register the scale with Sonoma County Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures. The registration and certification of your scale is an annual process. The department will inspect and test your scale for conformance to specification and tolerances. If the scale passes testing, it will be registered and certified, giving the user approval to use it commercially in Sonoma County.

Once at market or place of business, make sure to place your scale in a position that makes the display visible to your customers. Ensure the scale is on a level surface and that it indicates a zero weight value (balanced condition) prior to conducting any weighing.

If you have questions regarding purchasing a commercial scale, please call our office at (707) 565-2371.

Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures Debuts Spanish Language Version of the New

Land Steward’s Guide

The Department of Agriculture/Weights & Measures recently published The Land Steward’s Guide to Vineyard and Orchard Erosion Control (Guide). The purpose of the Guide is to help landowners and land managers understand erosion processes and to describe practices for repairing small-scale erosion problems common to agricultural operations.

The Guide consists of eight chapters covering:

  1. The General Principles of Erosion Control
  2. Managing Surface Erosion from Cultivated Areas
  3. Managing Sediment Delivery from Roads
  4. Managing Storm Water Runoff
  5. Managing Gullies and Shallow Landslides
  6. Managing Pesticides
  7. Managing Nutrients
  8. Winterization

Following these informative chapters are five associated appendices which cover the installation and maintenance of best management practices related to each specific erosional problem.

As the Guide is also intended for vineyard crews to install, monitor, and repair erosion practices, the department is pleased to announce that the Guide has been translated and is now available in a Spanish language version. The Spanish version hardcopy of the Guide will be available in early May 2018. You may request a copy by contacting our office at (707) 565-2371 or download at

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