Arable industry representatives have defended the National Register of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO) against stinging criticism over the “30-point requirement”.

The attacks followed the release of figures suggesting that more than 6000 NRoSO members could fail to accrue the 30 points needed for them to remain on the register.

Farmers Weekly Farmer Focus writer David Greasby described the points system as a “farce”, especially considering the amount of recording already done for the entry level scheme, farm assurance and cross-compliance.

Dubious points system

“I consider the current requirements of NRoSO are limp, out of date, provide an impracticable and dubious points system and, for the most part, are unnecessary, because many of the areas they cover are duplicated elsewhere.”

NFU pesticides spokesman Julian Hasler agreed there had been problems with points going missing or not being allocated. But he said this was being addressed.

“It’s not a perfect system, but it is one that can produce the results we need. NRoSO gives us credibility with the public, politicians and policy makers, showing them that we are training people and trying to improve our practices.”

Camilla Buckley from NRoSO said initial difficulties with the scheme were due to a lack of financial resources and rapid increase in membership, but she was confident this had been resolved.

Responding to criticism of the points system, she said: “The rules of the register and the CPD points requirement for continued membership are driven by the NRoSO advisory board, made up of representatives from the industry and in response to the Voluntary Initiative. If there is a need for change, then it can be done through the advisory board, which next meets in February 2007.”