0 The use of agricultural pesticides in sportsturf

The use of agricultural pesticides in sportsturf

By John Hall

Concern has arisen recently regarding the use of agricultural pesticides is sportsturf applications. As part of his company's commitment to the Voluntary Initiative (VI) on pesticide usage, John Hall, Marketing Manager at Bayer Environmental Science explains the situation.

The legal position is quite clear: it is against the law.

Pesticide manufacture, supply, sales storage and use are heavily regulated and prosecution for falling foul of the regulations may result in a fine, imprisonment or both. Quite rightly, manufacturers have to undertake extensive and costly trials to ensure that their products are safe and efficacious for each specific market; only when this has been proven is specific application use approval given.

It therefore makes total sense that the subsequent correct supply, storage and usage of pesticides is enforced by via various Acts of Parliament:

Health & Safety at Work Act 1974

-Obliges the employer to provide training, safe equipment and safe working environment for the use of approved products and practices

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

-Provides regulations to control the risks in the workplace, arising from substances hazardous to health, eg pesticides

Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (FEPA)

-Protects the health of humans, animals and plants, to safeguard the environment and ensure safe methods of controlling insects, weeds and diseases

Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (COPR)

-Defines the conditions placed on those that advertise, advise, sell, supply, store or use pesticides

Together, these regulations mean that everyone involved with pesticides is liable for their correct application.

No product may be used unless it has government approval on the grounds of safety and efficacy for the specific area of application. The conditions of approval, including recommendations for use, are given on the product label attached to every product pack and it is a legal requirement for everyone to comply with those conditions.

Only pesticides with label recommendations for amenity sportsturf can legally be supplied, stored and applied for that purpose. Without this label recommendation, the product has not been tested on sportsturf and it will leave those who apply it open to prosecution.

With the amount of research which goes into new products, the cost of an individual registration specific to the Amenity Market can be as much £50 million. Products with approval for use on sportsturf have been tested for this specific market. Although the active ingredient may be the same, it is important to understand that the formulation for agricultural use may differ significantly. The stringent controls in the amenity market are far stricter than in the agricultural market, and what has been approved for use in general agriculture may not have been tested for specific damage to sportsturf.

Furthermore, insurance cover will be void. Greenkeepers and Groundsmen who use product with no appropriate label recommendation on sportsturf, must understand that they are fully responsible and liable for any damage caused to property, persons and animals. In these days of enthusiastic pursuit of litigation, with stratospheric compensation awards, trying to cut costs this way could prove to be a very expensive mistake.

It is also financially important to work within the law for another reason. The government has decided to allow the industry itself to regulate the use of pesticides, known as the Voluntary Initiative (VI), and not to bring in a pesticide tax, which would increase the costs for all pesticide users. The illegal use of Agricultural Pesticides goes against the 'Best Practice' theme of VI and puts this agreement in jeopardy.

For further information please contact John Hall on 01992 784261

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