Tillage: Responsible pesticide use is in all our best interests
The new pesticide sprayer regulations have been introduced to promote responsible use of pesticides. Much of the content covered in the training courses is second nature to experienced operators.
However there are very few, if any, who know everything. If you attend a course and all the content is new, the course is probably too advanced for you; likewise, if you know everything you should be giving the course - and there is still a need for good trainers.
The need for appropriate training and standards is highlighted by the fact that one single drop of a pesticide entering a stream that's one metre wide and 0.3m deep can breach the drinking water limits on a 30 km length.
While much of our drinking water comes from groundwater, we do have many supplies fed by surface water and surface water feeds groundwater.
The most recent EPA Report on water quality states that "in general, it would seem that pesticides do not appear to be a particular problem in Ireland". Most of the cases of pesticide detection in water has been of MCPA use for rush control on grassland in wetland areas.
The National Action Plan for the Sustainable use of Pesticides specifies that products cannot be marketed or used unless it can be demonstrated that use will not cause unacceptable damage to human, animal or environmental health.
Therefore, problems are caused by misuse. It is important to read labels carefully and to follow all instructions.
Last Tuesday was the last day you were allowed to use your sprayer without being registered with the Department of Agriculture. You may register online but to do so you must be trained. For most people the training requirement is to attend a two-day course provided by registered providers.