Current status of Lawn Care IPM in Canada

By Pam Charbonneau, OMAFRA Turfgrass Specialist

It has been an interesting year in the lawn care industry. In May 2000, Charles Caccia, MP Davenport released the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development’s report Pesticides: Making the Right Choice for the Protection of Health and the Environment. This report brought into question the “cosmetic use of pesticides” for lawn and gardens in Canada. The full report can be found on the Government of Canada web site at An executive summary is also available at

     In the fall of 2000, as a result of the Caccia Report, Health Minister Allan Rock announced the Action Plan for Urban Use Pesticides, which was developed through a partnership effort between Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and the provincial and territorial governments. An overview of the action plan is detailed below:

The Action Plan on Urban Use Pesticides

The Action Plan on Urban Use Pesticides was developed to help Canadians reduce their reliance on pesticides in the urban setting. It is composed of three key elements:
  1. Healthy Lawns Strategy for urban pesticide risk reduction
    The objective of the Healthy Lawns Strategy is to reduce reliance on pesticide use for lawn care through the application of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles, with particular emphasis on pest prevention, use of reduced risk products and application of pesticides only when necessary.

  2. Registration of new reduced risk products
    PMRA will continue to facilitate access to reduced risk products through harmonization activities including priority joint review of reduced risk chemical pesticides and biopesticides.

  3. Product re-evaluation
    The re-evaluation of the seven most common active ingredients used in lawn care products are targeted for completion in 2001. Changes to registration or withdrawals of lawn care products resulting from these re-evaluations will be implemented in the same timeframe in Canada as those made in the U.S. The target is to have the review of all organophosphate insecticides used in homes, home gardens and public buildings, such as schools completed in 2001.

     More detailed information on the action plan can be found at

Healthy Lawns Working Group
In addition to the action plan, the federal government also promised to work with the provinces and the territories to reduce reliance on pesticides for lawn care through the adoption and application of IPM principles. Part of the action plan was the creation of the Healthy Lawns Working Group. This working group consists of federal and provincial government representatives. Representing Ontario on the Healthy Lawns Working Group are staff members from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ministry of Environment (MOE). The objective of this working group is stated above under Healthy Lawns Strategy.

     The mission of the Healthy Lawns Working Group is:
  • To provide advice and direction to federal, provincial and territorial governments on the implementation of the Healthy Lawns strategy
  • To deliver and implement the objectives of the Healthy Lawns strategy, and
  • To promote information exchange in the area of lawn pest management
There are five proposed activities of this working group:
  • Assessing the types of products available to homeowners
  • Narrowing the existing domestic category and establishing a new category for products for more controlled domestic use
  • Improving product labeling so domestic lawn care pest control product use is compatible with enhanced risk reduction practices
  • Develop training materials and programs for homeowner, vendor and service providers
  • Establish the Healthy Lawns web site

     The PMRA, as part of the Healthy Lawns Working group, held a meeting with stakeholders to present their Healthy Lawns Strategy and get feedback from the stakeholder groups. This meeting took place in Aylmer, QC, March 2 and 3.

     Behind the scenes at Landscape Ontario (LO), a group of stakeholders, consisting mainly of lawn care owners and operators in partnership with LO staff, MOE and OMAFRA, met to come up with an industry action plan to address the Caccia Report and the PMRA Action Plan on Urban Use Pesticides. Called the Ontario Landscape IPM Stakeholder Group, its purpose is to develop IPM-Best Management Practices for the commercial landscape industry. They were represented at the PMRA Healthy Lawn Strategy Stakeholders meeting held in Aylmer, QC, March 1 and 2, along with LO and many other national organizations which have interest in reducing the risk of pesticides in the urban landscape. (For the report on this meeting see page 28). A summary of the Healthy Lawns Stakeholders meeting will be posted on the Healthy Lawns web site at

Registration of new reduced risk products by PMRA
One of the key elements of the Action Plan on Urban Use Pesticides is the registration of new reduced risk products. The PMRA is developing a number of approaches through harmonization activities with the U.S. to facilitate access to reduce risk products. Speaking on behalf of the lawn care industry in Ontario, this is one of the large holes that we currently have in Ontario and Canada with regard to IPM in lawn care. We have so few products to control pests in turf and many of them are not particularly IPM friendly. It is important to the industry that more IPM friendly products become available as alternatives to the current pesticides. In fact, many of the pesticides currently used in lawn care are under re-evaluation by the PMRA, and may no longer be available in the not-too-distant future.

IPM Manual for Landscape Pests in British Columbia
Another initiative toward IPM in lawn care was the release of the Integrated Pest Management Manual for Landscape Pests in British Columbia. Produced by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks in British Columbia, this manual is one in a series of IPM manuals that will be used in pesticide applicator training in British Columbia. There is an online version of this manual as well as additional references on landscape pests. Follow the links to the Integrated Pest Management home page at: Copies of the manual can be ordered from the Office Products Centre listed on the web site for $15 Cdn.

OMAFRA Co-op IPM summer student
In an effort to help promote IPM for lawn care in Ontario, OMAFRA has committed funds to hire a co-op summer student to work on urban landscape IPM. The goal is to work with lawn care providers on a pilot project that introduces IPM into the lawn care sector. The summer student will monitor the progress of this lawn care IPM pilot project and determine what was successful and what was not. There will also be a focus on developing rapid, effective monitoring techniques for some of the main turfgrass insect pests. If you have any ideas of lawn care IPM questions that need to be addressed, please feel free to contact me by phone at (519) 824-4120 x 2597 or by e-mail at

     In addition, OMAFRA will again be operating the Turf and Nursery Agriphone services. These services will help you know what diseases and insects are active, when and how to monitor and when to control pests, if their control is warranted. The OMAFRA Agriphone services will commence in April and the toll-free number is 1-888-290-4441.

     In the past, offering IPM lawn care services was seen as a niche market for customers who were in favour of pesticide reduction. It is becoming clear that the adoption of IPM for lawn care in Canada is something that must embraced by the entire lawn care sector to support the PMRA in their Healthy Lawns strategy.