21 April 1995

Industry often at odds within

The Ciba Agriculture/FARMERS WEEKLY Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year competition is in its 12th year. Here Andy Collings reports the views of this years judges

BIGGEST problem facing the agrochemical industry is the inability of sprayer manufacturers to co-operate with chemical manufacturers, says Terry Howard, head of training development at ATB Land Base.

Mr Howard, a judge in this years Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year competition, reaches this conclusion after several years involvement in sprayer operator training.

"There is no doubt spraying machinery has improved radically in recent years," he comments. "How many sprayers are now offered without low-level induction hoppers, clean water washing facilities or remote controls?

"But helpful as these developments are in protecting the operator from coming into contact with concentrated chemical, they are merely scratching the surface compared with what could be done with a little more co-operation between manufacturers."

Mr Howard cites the case of chemical injection systems, which repeatedly fail overall acceptance by the industry. "Most would agree such systems have a lot to offer in terms of operator safety, but only if chemical packaging can be standardised to accommodate their designs," he insists.

Even so, Mr Howard is convinced that since the introduction of the Control of Pesticide Regulations in 1986, many aspects of the operation have improved.

"Most farms now have a secure chemical store offering frost protection, bunding and exercising proper stock control. Its an indication of the approach now being made to on-farm chemical application in terms of operator care and environmental awareness.

"Confirmation of such improvements, if it was needed, has been provided during the judging of the Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year competition – the vast majority of competitors demonstrating knowledge and skills far in advance of spray operators only a few years ago."