Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

Sprayer 'NCT' has lots of positives

The benefits of the new sprayer regime will outweigh the red-tape and costs, writes Derek Casey

From next year onwards things are going to get more regulated in the world of sprayers.

The additional red tape will come as part of the introduction of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD) by the Department of Agriculture.

The directive states that by November 2016, all boom sprayers greater than 3m and all blast and orchard sprayers will need to have been tested and certified by a registered inspector at least once.

If your sprayer doesn't meet the required standard in terms of safety and application it will either have to be repaired or decommissioned.

So how many operators will the new rules affect? The Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association estimates that there are around 40,000 sprayers currently in use in the country.

That figure comprises a vast majority that will either be tractor mounted or trailed sprayers, with a very small number of large self-propelled sprayers in the mix as well.

Regardless of output capacity, once your sprayer has a boom width greater than 3m you are obliged to have your machine inspected. Sprayers will have to be tested once every five years until 2020 and once every three years thereafter.

While the new regulations will certainly add red tape, there are some sizeable positives that shouldn't be overlooked.

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Apart from the obvious environmental benefits that will come from properly calibrated and serviced sprayers, machinery industry sources expect a sort of "NCT effect" on sprayers that have a fresh certificate.

As in the car industry, sprayers that pass the inspection are expected to gain value as they are certified as being in good working order.

This should improve the quality of good second hand sprayers on the market as resale values of certified sprayers improve.


Needless to say, no one enjoys a financial outlay and it would be churlish to suggest that the new rules won't incur extra costs. However, increased productivity and agrochemical efficiency, as well as improved machine reliability and resale value means the test cost of around €150 to €200, depending on sprayer size, should pay for itself.

Another benefit comes in the form of improved sprayer efficacy and accuracy; with improved boom and nozzle maintenance, operators can feel more confident that they are using expensive pesticides most efficiently. It's about getting the chemicals exactly where they're needed and in the appropriate droplet size, with minimal money-wasting excess.

For contractors, a test certificate will prove your adherence to best practice procedures and reflect favourably on your professionalism.

Indo Farming