It appears that just 10% of pesticide sprayers have been cleared for use on local farms.
All units must be inspected and certified by approved testers before November 26 and John Whitney who is a tester here in Longford is advising all local farmers this week about the importance of ensuring that testing is carried out before the upcoming deadline.
“Every sprayer that is used for crop or grassland has to be tested by November 26; tests will be carried out on sprayers five years or older and certification lasts for five years,” said Mr Whitney who resides in Ardagh.
“Tests certified out in 2016 means that they won’t have to be done again until 2021.”
All machines that are over five years old, and with a boom length of 3m or over must be tested under strict new measures introduced as part of the EU’s Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) for pesticides.
“Tests take between two and three hours,” continued Mr Whitney who then pointed out that in cases where the sprayers in question fail the test and costs for repairs become excessive, the machines will be decommissioned by the Department.
“My experience is that generally sprayers are in good shape especially in cases where they have been maintained over the last few years,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Department has warned farmers not to use older sprayers that have not been tested and passed by a Department-registered inspector.
A spokesperson said that all machines required a Department-issued certification sticker indicating the date of the test and test number.
“If a sprayer is not tested, the Department has suggested that farmers be penalised on their cross-compliance payment,” Mr Whitney added.
“The advice would be to get it done and ensure that the machine is certified.”
Costs per test are between €120 and €160.
This does not include any repairs necessary thereafter.
“There has been a bit of scaremongering going on with regards to the cost of tests, but realistically, the cost varies between €120 and €160,” added Mr Whitney.
“This is not a huge amount of money to spend on getting a machine certified for the next five years.”
Sprayer inspections involve checks on the machine’s pressure gauge, boom and filters, the flow rate through nozzles.
Hoses and pipes must also be in good condition.
Nationally there are just 100 inspectors approved and registered which means that they would need to test over 200 sprayers each between now and the end of November to ensure full farmer compliance with the SUD measures.
While it is not known how many sprayers are liable to be tested this year, it is estimated that the figure is well in excess of €20,000.
For more details, contact Mr Whitney on (087) 8139564.