Farming: Testing time for sprayers under new regulations

Scottish Quality Crops (SQC) has reminded growers that sprayer ‘MOT’ tests will be required on an annual basis from August this year.

Crop sprayers need MOT test
Crop sprayers need MOT test

With national data showing that almost half of all sprayers submitted for their tests required minor repairs, the decision was taken to increase the frequency of the assurance scheme’s testing requirement which had previously only been once every three years.

“Currently minimum legal requirements are followed, which is testing sprayers with boom widths over 3 metres every three years, with the additional need of SQC members to carry out a self-assessment for the interim 2 years,” said the organisation’s managing director, Teresa Dougall.

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“From the new Scheme year 2022/23 members are required to have their main crop sprayer tested annually.”

“We previously communicated this change to members – and it is also highlighted in your SQC Manual,” added Andrew Moir who chairs the assurance scheme, “But we are now taking the opportunity to remind members that implementation of this change comes into force on 01 August so please do ensure that you are aware of what is required”.

Ian Forman of the National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) revealed that data from testing centres had highlighted that of all sprayers presented for the test, only 54% had no faults.

“This means that the rest, 46%, have one or more faults that are required to be repaired before the machine can pass the test.”

He said that while the majority of these sprayers were tested annually NSTS data showed that the number of sprayers needing some form of repair was much higher when testing was carried out less frequently.

Pointing out that leaks and drips were the most common faults, he said:

“Safe and accurate application of pesticides must be achieved from all sprayers and more regular testing helps ensure this” – but he added that regular testing would also save downtime for the operator as faults would be rectified during the test rather than during the busy spraying period.

SQC added that an operator check sheet, available from the NSTS website, which was similar to the self-assessment sheet currently in use should still be used at intervals during the season to keep the machine running in good condition.

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“There is also space to record a calibration, already a requirement for SQC members.”

*A reminder has also been issued by Defra to all businesses using plant protection products (PPPs), including crop sprays such as weedkillers, fungicides, insecticides, growth regulators and adjuvants – to register their details with them.

The requirements - which were published in April by Defra and the HSE -mean that anyone who uses PPPs must register with Defra (which will also handle the issue for the relevant government departments in Scotland and Wales) by 22 June 2022.

Defra said the aim of the post-Brexit legislation was to ensure compliance with existing pesticide legislation, across agriculture, horticulture, amenity and forestry. In the farming industry, the regulations will cover not only arable and horticulture growers but also livestock and other sectors using applied pesticides.

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