19 December 1997

Spray care a Danish priority

As part of his prize 1997

Farm Sprayer Operator of the

Year Ben Gilg travelled to

Denmark to examine that

countrys spraying industry.

In our second article

John Allan profiles Denmarks

top sprayer operator

THIS years Danish Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year, Ervin Vallebo, of Glumso, has expanded his farming operations from 34ha to 300ha over recent years.

He now owns 100ha (40 acres), rents 110ha (45 acres) and contract farms the rest. Employed labour includes one full-time student, a part-time farmer and his father.

A wide range of crops is grown for seed, making careful spray applications a priority. But with fields up to 28 miles apart road transport is important.

A Hardi LY 1200-litre mounted sprayer with 15m boom and a front tank for carrying water is Mr Vallebos choice. All chemical mixing is done in the rear tank.

Working with 100-125 litres/ha conventional nozzles and 150-litres/ ha lo-drift nozzles, the tank capacity makes it feasible to travel to work and not worry about water filling.

Low application volumes are commonplace in Denmark. Indeed Mr Vallebo only ever uses 200 litres/ha when applying Reglone in November to get rid of barley in an under-sown clover seed crop.

"I found cutting from 200 litres to 180 litres/ha helped me a lot last year," says Ben Gilg, UK Farm Sprayer Operator of the Year 1997. "Having seen this I will have to think of cutting it even further."

Farm records are seen as important in environmentally conscious Denmark. They are checked by an inspector on 30% of farms each year, and a random selection of papers are also called in, comments Mr Vallebo.

Furthermore, water samples are monitored regularly to check the efficacy of the 10-20m no-spray areas demanded for certain products alongside watercourses.

The first 2m of buffer must be left uncropped. That can cause its problems when first implemented – one of the farms sugar beet fields has a 1m cleavers strip alongside it.

Although Mr Vallebo washes the outside of his sprayer down in different areas in fields well away from water, he is watching with interest the development of bio-bed wash-down areas.

Given Denmarks environmental consciousness, Mr Gilg was surprised to find no equivalent to the UK "Green Code" for pesticide use. Neither was there any guidance on pesticide storage. The only requirement is that the chemical store is signed and locked.

By contrast the disposal of rinsed and drained pesticide packs is highly organised. Large plastic bags with impervious liners are distributed free to Mr Vallebo and other farmers.

When full, these are taken by the farmer to a local waste collection depot, before being consolidated at a central plant at Nyborg. Here all the countrys waste pesticide packs are disposed of by incineration.

Since 1991 all sprayer operators have had to be certificated. This is achieved by taking a one-week government funded local or residential course followed by a test. Keeping operators up to speed is ensured by follow-up courses every two years, with a national target of 10,000 tests a year. &#42

Left: Ervin Vallebo, Danish Sprayer Operator of the Year with the 1200-litre 15m boom sprayer which he uses to spray his 300ha (121 acres) of arable crops. The front tank is used to carry clean water only, all chemical being mixed in the rear tank. Right: Mr Vallebo demonstrates the imperviously lined plastic bag which is supplied free to farmers in Denmark for rinsed and drained empty pesticide packs. These are collected from depots around the country and sent to a central incineration plant.

DANISH FSOOTY WINNER

&#8226 Ervin Vallebo – farmer and sprayer operator.

&#8226 Sprays 300ha of crops.

&#8226 Wheat, OSR, barley, sugar beet, peas, spinach, grass and clover, mainly for seed.

&#8226 Hardi LY1200, 15m boom.

&#8226 Most sprays 100-125 litres/ha.

&#8226 Empty pack disposal scheme.