Department warns of fines as the majority of sprayers remain untested

November 26 is the deadline for sprayer testing
November 26 is the deadline for sprayer testing

Tom Pettigoe

Just 10pc of pesticide sprayers have been cleared for use on Irish farms - although all older units must be inspected and certified by approved testers before November 26.

The Department of Agriculture confirmed to the Farming Independent that just 3,000 of the 30,000 to 40,000 sprayers in the country had been passed by inspectors to date.

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.

While it is not known exactly how many sprayers are liable to be tested this year, it is estimated that the figure is well in excess of 20,000.

With only 100 inspectors approved and registered nationally, 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. However, test centres report very little farmer concern regarding the impending deadline.

"Fellows know they have to do the test but they are busy sowing at the moment - there is never a good time for jobs like this," one tester said. Another pointed out that many farmers wouldn't bother with the test until they were getting ready for spaying next spring.

Department warning

However, the Department has warned farmers not to use older sprayers that have not been tested and passed by a Department-registered inspector. A spokesman said all machines required a Department-issued certification sticker indicating the date of test and test number.

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In instances where there was non-compliance with the relevant legislation, farmers could receive a fixed penalty notice of €250 or, on summary conviction, a Class A fine.

Sprayer inspections cost

Sprayer inspections involve checks on the machine's pressure gauge, boom and filters, the flow rate through nozzles and that hoses and pipes are in good condition. Prices for the inspections range from €170 to €300 (plus VAT).

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