Everyone using and applying plant protection products (PPP) needs to be aware of the legal requirements relating to their use, and this includes having the sprayer tested regularly, says NSTS.
The national body for testing pesticides explains that the goal must be to do everything possible to help retain active substances necessary for safe, effective, and economical control of weeds, pests, and diseases. The list of actives available is continually under threat and anything that can be done to mitigate losing more products will benefit everyone. Some of this may be enforced by legislation but following best practice guidelines will benefit all users.
In addition to sprayer operators holding the relevant professional qualifications and the need for appropriate storage facilities for pesticides, there are minimum legal timescales for sprayer testing. All new sprayers must be tested before they are five years old. After that, booms over 3m and air-blast sprayers are due a re-test every three years and for booms 3m and under it is every six years. Knapsack sprayers and other handheld equipment do not require a NSTS test, but they do have to be inspected on a regular basis, repairs made if necessary, and a record of the checks kept. For this purpose, a knapsack checklist is available on the NSTS website.
For anyone in a crop assurance scheme, requirements may vary for different types of equipment, so check with your certification body or scheme protocol to confirm.
All these factors should help ensure that products remain available for use. The revised National Action Plan is due to be published soon and is likely to encourage more emphasis on integrated pest management (IPM) plans to be used as the starting point for all weed, pest, and disease control, and PPP application used when no other viable option can be used for effective or economical control.
NSTS always promotes best practice in all aspects of PPP use. This includes following guidelines from the Voluntary Initiative (www.voluntaryinitiative.org.uk ), additional operator training, using qualified advisors for pesticide recommendations, and making sure that routine checks and calibrations are carried out. When it comes to sprayer testing, consider having the machine tested more regularly than the stated minimum timescales, as this will help to ensure it is in top condition to enable safe and accurate application of pesticides and reduce downtime