As part of the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD), pesticide application equipment (PAE) testing became a legal requirement in 2016. Any machine applying a professional pesticide must be tested by the specified dates and at regular intervals thereafter.
Ian Forman, National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) manager says, "To explain this in a bit more detail, the change affects sprayers that are more than 5 years old and have a boom width over 3 metres, air blast sprayers, aircraft, and train sprayers. Currently a test is required every 5 years, but from 26th November it changes to every 3 years. So, for any sprayer of this type tested before November 2017, a re-test is due by that date.
"It is also important to note that sprayers tested any time after 26th November 2017, the test is only valid for 3 years, so if your sprayer was tested for example in June 2018, the next test is due in June 2021."
For all other types of PAE, which includes boom sprayers 3 metres and under, weed wipers, slug pellet and granular applicators and a range of other machines, the requirements remain unchanged at 6 yearly cycles for retest.
Ian continued, "Crop assurance scheme requirements haven't changed so sprayers are still required to be tested annually. Regular testing is important in helping to ensure safe and accurate application of pesticides, protecting the environment and waterways, but also helping to safeguard the availability of products for the future. A regularly tested machine will reduce the risk of breakdowns, when timing of applications can be crucial for efficient control of weeds, pests and diseases.
"The need for an integrated pest management (IPM) plan to be carried out helps ensure that when the decision has been made to use a pesticide, that the equipment is calibrated and has been tested to a standard that will apply the product in a safe and sustainable way."