University of Manitoba: Natural Systems Agriculture: Guidelines for Pesticide Free Production
University of Manitoba Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Department of Plant Science

Guidelines for
Pesticide Free Production

The guidelines to produce a certifiable Pesticide Free Production crop are simple. A PFP crop is grown without the use of any pesticidal seed treatment, in-crop pesticide or where there is residual herbicide activity. Unlike organic production, there are no restrictions on the grower in terms of commitment to PFP. If, during the cropping year, the field is overwhelmed with a pest outbreak that requires treatment with a pesticide, then the grower is still able to control the pest and market the product into the conventional system. PFP can then be attempted in the next year.

Previous Crop

Fields that have been cropped for two or more years with a perennial forage such as alfalfa are likely to have greatly reduced weed pressure, particularly from annual weeds, in the year following termination. A perennial crop can also provide a break in disease and insect cycles for a PFP crop. However, any perennial weeds, including the forage crop, will need to have been adequately controlled in the year prior to PFP as they will be difficult to manage afterwards.


Any crop can be grown as PFP, however, some are better suited than others. Barley and oats have been targeted as crops that would make ideal candidates for Pesticide Free Production. They are vigorous, competitive crops that can be grown relatively free of unmanageable weed, disease and insect pests. However, there may be a market for all PFP crops. Results from a market survey conducted by the University of Manitoba show that consumers are interested in products made from PFP grains, oilseeds and pulses.


There is no restriction on the type or amount of fertilizer that can be used in PFP. Fields that have fertilizer banded are more likely to have competitive crops and reduced weed pressure compared with broadcast fertilizers. Crops growing without nutrient deficiencies will be more vigorous and competitive. Fertility-oriented seed treatments, such as inoculants or Provide, are allowed in PFP.


Use of fungicides are not permitted in a PFP year. There is no restriction on the use of fungicides in the previous year since they are not commercially active in the following year. However, fungicidal seed treatments cannot be used on PFP crops.

Barley yellow dwarf virus is the major disease threat to barley in Manitoba, and there is no registered fungicide treatment.

Crown rust is the major disease threat to oat crops. Selection of resistant cultivars such as Assiniboia, Medallion and Triple Crown is recommended.


Use of insecticides are not permitted in a PFP year. There is no restriction on the use of any insecticides in the previous year since they are not commercially active in the following year. However, insecticidal seed treatments cannot be used on PFP crops.

The major insect concern in both barley and oat crops is grasshoppers. Growers in high risk areas can reduce the potential for grasshopper damage by seeding their PFP crops as early as possible. Older plants can withstand more grasshopper damage than younger plants. Also, crops that are seeded earlier will mature earlier and migrating grasshoppers are not as likely to be attracted to them.


In a PFP system, a herbicide may be applied for weed burnoff up until the time of crop emergence. Refer to the herbicide list below for products that may be used in this way. No herbicides, including preharvest treatments, may be applied during the growing season. In addition, there are a number of herbicides with residual activity that have restrictions based on previous years' applications. These restrictions are included in the list of products below. Non-chemical methods that may increase crop competitiveness with weeds include banded (rather than broadcast) fertilizer, high seeding rates and shallow seeding.

Buffer Zones

If growers intend to market PFP crops separately from conventionally produced crops, PFP field areas must be separated from pesticide-treated areas by a small buffer zone. This applies to any adjacent fields, headlands, or spots within the field that are treated with a prohibited product during the growing season of the PFP crop, or where previously applied residual pesticides are still considered to be commercially active. If the boundaries of a PFP area are clearly marked, a buffer zone of 1 metre will generally be adequate. If boundaries are not clearly marked, the area that qualifies as PFP crop will be determined on a case by case basis.

Identity Preservation and Storage

PFP crops must be harvested and stored separately from conventionally produced crops if it is intended that they will be marketed separately. This is necessary in order to guarantee that none of the grain has been treated with a pesticide. Fumigation of bins with pesticides is not permitted. Grain samples should be taken and archived by the grower for one year after marketing of the PFP product in order to be able to protect the integrity of the product.

Herbicide Restrictions

Products can be used at any time until the final restriction (for example, glyphosate products can be applied as a preemergent burnoff and so can also be applied the previous fall). Print Herbicide Restriction List.

Herbicides that can be applied as a preemergent burnoff: Amitrol 240 (when used at rates recommended for preemergent burnoff), glyphosate products, Gramoxone, Pardner.

Herbicides that can be applied in the fall prior to a PFP crop: 2,4-D, MCPA, Rustler, plus those listed above.

Herbicides that can be applied in the year prior to a PFP crop: 2,4-DB, Achieve 80DG, Achieve Extra Gold, Assure II, Avenge, Banvel II (< 0.25 L/ac applied prior to September 1 of the previous year), Basagran, Buctril M, Champion Extra, Champion Plus, Compas, Dichlorprop + 2,4-D, Dual II, DyVel, DyVel DS, Eptam, Eradicane, Express Pack, Freedom Gold, Frontier, Frontline, Fusion, Gramoxone, Harmony Total, Hoegrass II/284, Horizon/Horizon BTM, Kerb, Laddock, Laser DF, Liberty, Linuron, MCPB + MCPA, Mecoprop, Pardner, Pea Pack, Pinnacle, Poast Ultra, PrePass, Puma, Puma OnePas, Puma Super, Refine Extra, Reglone/Reward, Select, Sencor/Evict, Stampede EDF, Target/Sward, Thumper, Triumph Plus, Venture, plus those listed above.

Herbicides that can be applied no less than 2 years prior to a PFP crop: Absolute, Accent, Accord, Assert, Atrazine, Attain, Avadex, Curtail, Eclipse, Edge, Everest, Flaxmax Ultra, Fortress, K2, Lontrel, Muster, Muster Gold/II, Odyssey, Prestige, Prevail, Primextra Light, Prism, Pursuit, Reflex, Simazine, Spectrum, Sundance, trifluralin products, Trophy, Ultim, Velpar.

Herbicides that can be applied no less than 4 years prior to a PFP crop: Ally, Amber.

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This page created August 2004.