It’s now a year since sprayer testing – and two years since professional user training – became mandatory under the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive.
To date, 6,800 sprayer certification labels have been issued to Department of Agriculture approved equipment inspectors; 3,100 of these labels were issued since November 2016. This essentially means that just 23% of all sprayers in Ireland have been tested.
It is estimated that there are 30,000 sprayers in the country. However, some of these sprayers do not yet require testing, as they are under five-years-old.
All other sprayers must be tested by a registered department equipment inspector. A list of Department approved inspectors can be found on the department’s website.
The test lasts for five years. However, after 2020, the sprayer test will need to be carried out every three years.
A spokesperson for the department said sprayer testing is not only very desirable from a good practice point of view, but also for ensuring that the application equipment is applying the correct amount of product and spraying it in an accurate manner.
The department representative also stated: “The need for appropriate training and the requirement for the testing of all pesticide application equipment must be viewed in the context of protecting both human health (operators, bystanders and consumers) and the environment – in particular our water.”
Sprayer operators aren’t the only ones under scutiny; pesticide advisors and distributors must also be trained before prescribing or distributing chemicals.
A new pesticide training programme was launched last week by Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture. This programme focuses on pesticide use in grassland, with an emphasis on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – which promotes the sustainable use of pesticides.