26 March 1999

No need to panic over pesticide disposal licence

By Andrew Blake

and Amanda Dunn

DONT panic because you havent applied for a pesticide disposal licence by the April 1 deadline.

With a few minor adjustments most arable farms can avoid the need to hold a licence at all.

That is the advice from industry specialists as arable farmers become ensnared in Environment Agency rules aimed primarily at protecting groundwater from sheep dip.

With some modifications 80% of arable farmers should not need EA disposal authorisation, says the NFUs pesticides specialist Chris Wise. Much hinges on the definitions of "disposal" and "use". "You dont need authorisation unless you are disposing," explains Dr Wise

Use means application to crops, while disposal involves tank rinsings and external washings. But with some adjustment many growers can ensure that both rinsings and washings are used and so escape the expense of authorisation, he maintains.

Tank rinsings can be sprayed out over the crop, provided the maximum permissible dose is not exceeded. External equipment washings can be disposed of in the same way, provided they have been created in the same crop. "Our advice is to wash down in the field," says Dr Wise.

Only where it is impractical to follow this route, and disposal over a sacrificial area is the best option, will authorisation be needed. Soak-aways are not permitted under the new rules.

Whether set-aside land may legally receive rinsings and wash-downs remains unclear. "We are still waiting for a MAFF decision. But our initial impression is that it will be unhelpful," says Dr Wise. Bio-beds, as installed at Morley Research Centre (Arable Feb 19), do not yet remove the need for authorisation.

Patrick Goldsworthy for the British Agrochemical Association echoes the NFU view. "Our message is do it all in the crop." But confusion still surrounds the position of contractors who need to rinse out on farms which have not applied for authorisation, notes UKASTAs Derek Ward.

DISPOSALREGS

&#8226 Pesticide waste, washings and rinsings may be used by spraying back on to same crop, provided total label rate not exceeded – no licence needed.

&#8226 Disposal on sacrificial areas after April 1 only possible if licence application submitted before Mar 31, or after EA inspection for later applications.

&#8226 Extension to Mar 31 deadline unlikely, says EA.

&#8226 Applications cost £84, plus £108 a year annual fee.

&#8226 EA Hotline: 0645-333111.