'Most farmers will have nothing to worry about'
Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30
One man who is taking an upbeat view of the new sprayer regime is Carlow farmer Kevin Nolan. The 35-year-old has built up an enterprise of more than 1,000ac of cereals on mostly leased land in and around the parish of Bennekerry in Carlow town.
"I think people might be worrying a little too much about this," says Kevin. "If the machine is in good working order and if you maintain it properly from year to year I think the vast majority of farmers will have nothing to worry about.
"Those with newer machines will obviously find it easier to pass the inspections, but there are lots of clean second hand sprayers that will have no issues either. In terms of the paper work, yes it adds a few more forms to fill out and another layer of red tape. But by and large, the rules are there for the good of the crops and environment. At the end of the day, a well maintained sprayer will only improve crop yields."
If farmers and contractors are to be prepared for the new rules and regulations they are going to need plenty of support and training from the industry.
As in the NCT scenario, this support is expected to come in the form of pre and post-test repairs as well as the actual sprayer testing itself. In addition, all sprayer operators will need to be trained by November this year so that they are certified to meet a set level of procedural knowledge.
Some machinery dealers and distributors specialising in spraying equipment have already put plans in place to cater for the expected surge in demand for sprayer testing.
For example, Irish Agricultural Machinery (IAM) in Kilkenny have invested in the necessary sprayer testing equipment and training required ahead of the SUD being introduced in November 2016.
IAM are distributors for the Hardi range of sprayers, a popular sprayer choice in this country with plenty of new and second hand machines currently in use here.
John Heatherington from the service department of IAM has successfully completed the required training courses and is now officially listed as an approved pesticides equipment inspectors for Ireland.
Mr Heatherington says that to date he hasn't had a huge amount of test orders but expects that to change as the deadline approaches.
"Most operators appear to be putting it on the long finger which is perfectly understandable given that we are still some months away from the deadline," he explained.
"From what I have seen in my time working with sprayer operators in Ireland the vast majority will pass the test without any additional repair work required.
"For those who do fall short, I would say the two biggest pitfalls will be tank leaks and pump failures. In the run up to the test my advice to operators is just to get the basics right - things like proper PTO guards, repairing leaking tanks, replacing worn pumps and sprayer nozzles. If those boxes are ticked the test won't be a problem."
In terms of logistics, IAM will be asking operators to bring sprayers to their premises for testing and it is expected most test centres will take a similar approach. This will make it easier to carry out repairs to any sprayers that do need work in order to navigate the test.
If the sprayer is approved, the operator will be issued with a completed test report form.
The inspector will also fix a uniquely numbered sticker to the machine stating that the machine passed and the date of the test.
It is expected that a copy of the test report form will be sought by the Department of Agriculture for verification and compliance purposes.