21 March 1997

Spray guidelines should not be relaxed – HSE

RECENT developments in spray jets, nozzles and air-assisted spraying technology should not lead to a relaxation in crop spraying weather guidelines, says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Traditionally, it says, spraying is restricted to periods of relatively calm weather due to the risk of small droplets of potentially harmful chemicals being blown away from the intended target.

But modern spraying equipment makers, which have spent vast sums developing low drift nozzles, air-assisted sprayers and many other devices designed to cut spray drift, are now calling for a relaxation of crop spraying weather guidelines. The HSE points out that the number of complaints about crop spraying remains high and considers it would be inappropriate to consider relaxing standards.

Current guidelines for spraying, now under review, state that it should take place at wind speeds of between 2mph and 4mph; at between 4mph and 6mph, spraying is possible but not with herbicides.

"While we welcome new technology in air-assisted spraying, which helps direct the chemical on to the crop, there will always be drifting of small, light droplets," says John Bouckley for the HSE. &#42