NFU Share Twenty Top Tips for Best Practice in Pesticide Spraying
Boom Sprayer spraying pesticides

Published on

September 18 2019

Here at Lantra, when we see something we think will be of interest to our network, we share it. 

We’re confident these Twenty Top Tips from the NFU will be useful for anyone working with pesticides.

We are proud to have some of the most highly trained and competent sprayer operators in the UK promoting responsible pesticide use as part of an integrated approach to pest, weed and disease management. The Voluntary Initiative and various stewardship groups have done a great job in getting messages out to operators so that they are fully aware of best practice.

Many operators undertake CPD each year to ensure they are up to speed with latest advice and the NSTS scheme ensures equipment has a regular sprayer MOT. The UK Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food consistently finds fewer residue problems with UK-produced food than it does with imported food.

Despite these achievements, there is some public debate about the impacts of pesticides on the environment and health. UK farming is committed to continue to challenge itself to keep progressing in this area, as well as producing safe, affordable food domestically and not exporting food production to territories with divergent environmental standards. We also want to help meet the challenges set by Government within the 25 year Environment Plan to put Integrated Pest Management (IPM) at the heart of a holistic approach to protecting crops.  

The following Top Twenty Tips are worth a read if you are a sprayer operator or if you are involved in any of the cropping decisions on farm. We can all make tweaks to improve practice, to protect human health and the environment and to ensure compliance with the law. Let’s continue to lead the world in operator professionalism and continue to deliver safe, affordable, nutritious food to a growing population.

Sprayer Operator Top Twenty Tips:

  1. Training and qualifications – Are they appropriate for the equipment you are using? Check the relevant modules on the Lantra and City & Guilds websites
  2. Use Plant Protection Products (PPPs) as part of an integrated approach to pest, weed and disease control. Take a look at the VI IPM plan
  3. Stay safe and legal – Have the pesticides you are planning to use been recommended by a BASIS qualified agronomist? Are they approved for use on the crop? Check the Ministry Appeoved Pesticide Product (MAPP) number is current on the HSE Pesticides database - read the Code of Practice for using PPPs
  4. Is your pesticide store fit for purpose? Some helpful advice can be found in HSE guidance on storing pesticides
  5. Ensure your equipment’s National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) test is up to date and the machine is calibrated and checked regularly, particularly when changing products. NSTS operator check sheet
  6. Be a Good Neighbour and inform concerned neighbours with Good Neighbour Q and A sheet
  7. Let your local bee keepers know when you’re spraying insecticides by using Bee Connected
  8. Are the conditions right for spraying? Think weather, wind, temperature, soil conditions, and possible drain flow. Check 24-hour forecast for rain and temperatures too.
  9. Ensure you have the necessary PPE available and use it!
  10. Are you up to speed on your pesticide planning and handling? Check out the Voluntary Initiative Check It Out tool
  11. Have you had the water you will use in your sprayer tested? Hardness can affect efficacy. Consider getting it tested and using a softener if it will improve PPP performance
  12. Filling and mixing: Use a drip tray to minimise point source pollution. Think what you do with foil seals and when updating your sprayer consider fitting a closed transfer system
  13. Nozzle selection: Use the most appropriate nozzle for the job and where possible use low drift technologies
  14. Boom height: Make sure you use the correct boom height; if you have contour following booms ensure that they are set and working correctly
  15. Ensure your forward speed is appropriate to achieve maximum efficiency while minimising drift
  16. Ensure sprayer washings are dealt with effectively, spraying them onto the field as long as the maximum dose rate is not exceeded. Consider using a bio-bed for washings disposal
  17. Ensure PPP packaging is washed and disposed of correctly
  18. Ensure your records are completed and kept safely
  19. Monitor the success of chemical interventions
  20. Are you aware of resistance management strategies?