Farmers and contractors who want to use pesticides must train and register for a spraying licence under new legislation.

The Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) is a new EU directive governing all aspects of pesticide use and means all farmers who want to use pesticides must be trained and registered as a professional user of pesticides with the Department of Agriculture by November 26, 2015.

The overall aims of the SUD are reduce the risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment and promote the use of integrated pest management (IPM) and of alternative approaches or techniques to pesticides.

Pesticides covered include: herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, seed dressings, certain rodenticides etc. Biocides (detergents, etc.) are not included yet but may be in the future.

Who will the SUD affect?

  • Pesticide advisors;
  • Pesticide distributors (merchants);
  • Professional users of pesticides (farmers, sprayer operators, spraying companies); and,
  • Inspectors of sprayer equipment.

What is a professional user of pesticides?

A professional user is any person who uses pesticides in the course of their professional activities, including operators, technicians, employers and self-employed people, both in the farming and other sectors.

Farmers must register with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) by November 26, 2015

Amateur use pesticides (e.g., home garden products) are not covered by the SUD

How do farmers register?
Register online at

What qualifications does a farmer need to register?

A farmer must have completed an approved pesticide course.

Who can purchase pesticides?
Any herd/flock owner or registered professional user can purchase professional use products

Only registered professional users can apply professional use products

What are the sanctions under the SUD?
The SUD will be inspected as part of cross compliance. Breaches may be subject to a penalty of €250 but in future that may be a percentage of Single Farm Payments.

What else should you know?
According to Teagasc, boom sprayers (greater than 3m wide) must be tested by November 26, 2016.

Farmers must keep records of all sprays applied.

Teagasc’s database shows that upwards on 14,000 farmers have the necessary FETAC Level 5 qualification and all they need to do is register online through the Department’s website. Farmers should check out with their local Teagasc office to see if they are qualified.