A farmer will not receive a sanction under Cross Compliance (CC) if, during the course of a CC inspection, they are found to be using an uncertified sprayer or if they have no PU number.

PU, in this context, stands for ‘Professional User’ – indicating a person who applies or sprays “professional-use products” in farming and other sectors.

However, according to the Department, the details will be “noted by the inspecting officer and cross-reported to the Pesticides Control Division”. In instances where there is non-compliance with the relevant legislation, farmers may receive “a fixed penalty notice of €250 or, on summary conviction, a Class A fine”.

Urging caution for farmers

Meanwhile, machinery distributors are urging farmers to ensure that any sprayer they might buy is ‘fully compliant’ with all relevant regulations.

Garry Daly is the Sales Director for Farmec Ireland – the Irish distributor of Bargam sprayers. Bargam is based at Imola in the northern part of Italy and claims to be one of the largest manufacturers of sprayers in Europe. More than 2500 Bargam sprayers, mostly tractor-mounted units, have been sold in Ireland over the past 25 years.

Daly explained: “You should be careful when buying a sprayer. There are a lot of different options out there, with machines coming from manufacturers all over the world.

“People typically look for machines that are CE marked. ‘CE’ is a mandatory marking, indicating conformity, for certain products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA); that has been the case since the 1980s.

“However, from what we can see, it is a self-regulating system – without on-the-ground enforcement or follow-up. That means someone can CE mark a machine, but that is not necessarily a guarantee that someone has fully checked out that particular machine.”

According to Daly, there is anecdotal evidence that machines are being sold into the EU and Irish markets which are not compliant with all the relevant regulations.

He explained: “They might pass the ‘on-the-ground’ sprayer test that machines have been subject to here (i.e. whereby elements of the sprayer such as the tank, nozzles, hoses, pump and filters are inspected) but they could lack some other technical features, which are also mandatory requirements – such as line flush systems, tank wash units and so on.

When looking at a sprayer, buyers should not take anything for granted. They should carefully review the actual specification of the machine and compare this against the mandatory requirements.

“There are well over two dozen key items of specification that need to be checked, to ensure that the sprayer can be legally sold and used here in Europe. If people are in any doubt, they can always contact companies such as ours – to get an up-to-date copy of the regulations.”