The National Sprayer Testing Scheme has again achieved its government agreed target of testing sprayers covering 85% of the sprayed area of the UK. To achieve the actual figure of 85.7% over 14200 sprayers were tested.
NSTS Manager Duncan Russell says 'This is a magnificent achievement, over 14,000 sprayer tests per year is the highest number achieved since NSTS started in 2003. It's very much down to the scheme becoming a recognised part of UK agriculture, a requirement of crop assurance schemes and of course our band of testers'.
Results from tests show that repairs and rectifications were required on 62.3% of machines with leaks and drips, hoses, worn nozzles and faulty pressure gauges being the main reasons, these have remained stable over recent years.
Mr Russell says 'The NSTS test is like a car MOT in that failure items are repaired and rectified before the machine goes back to work, that way we can be confident that machines are working efficiently and safely for the environment and the operator'.
In addition to liquid application machinery of all types, NSTS also carries out tests on granular applicators and foggers. NSTS tests apply to machines working in agriculture, amenity and horticulture. The scheme covers the whole of the UK, in addition machines working abroad are also covered by the scheme.
NSTS received much support during the Sustainable Use Directive consultation, which enters force later this year and requires that sprayers are tested at a minimal interval of 5 years falling to 3 years after 2020. The Government in its consultation response has said it will not gold plate the legislation and will introduce the legal requirement at the minimum interval. NSTS and the continuation of annual testing received much praise and support during the consultation process and annual voluntary testing will continue to be promoted by the Voluntary Imitative and as a requirement of crop assurance schemes and supermarket protocols.
The big challenge for NSTS remains the amenity sector and its acceptance of testing vehicle mounted machines.