Criticism of farmers is unwarranted when it comes to spraying, according to Essex grower Andrew Fairs.

“I do not like the proliferation of reports that make farmers look as though they have no regard for the countryside and the people around them,” he said.

“We do have operator training, we read spraying articles and we employ three professional agronomists.

“As farmers we do not wish to destroy our livelihood or our patch of the UK. Researchers and the public need to realise this.

“What I do not understand is why the farming community has to abide by strict regulations when gardeners, pest control agents and amenity users do not.”

Compulsory notification of residents would be unworkable, said Mr Fairs.

“Across our family farming business we have 290 residential neighbours, three horse liveries, five churches and two airfields.

“We spray 600 acres with two machines on a good day which equates to an average of 50 notifications a day which, at approximately four minutes a call, is 3.3 hours for each day’s spraying if all the conditions are right.

If not we would have to call again.”