24 May 2002

SPRAY TIPS: 7

SPRAYER OPERATOR TRAINING

More sprayer operator training is one of the challenges to be met under the government approved Voluntary Initiative to combat a pesticides tax.

Meeting the challenge could help farms get the best from agrochemicals, secure better profits and minimises any risk to the environment and water.

"Operators gave dedicated training events enthusiastic support last winter, when more than 1400 operators attended over 90 of the Initiatives sprayer operator roadshow events against a target of 30," says NFU crop science adviser Christopher Wise. "This represents a significant amount of the UK sprayed area."

Highly skilled operators are as keen as others to protect the environment and water by improving filling practices and keeping up to speed on improving application and timeliness.

Air inclusion nozzles, air sleeve booms, applying 100litre/ha sprays at higher speeds, using precision farming techniques and spray control systems all help, as well as measures required by law, like LERAPs, he says.

"Even if you only spray a small area each year you still need regular training to get the best from your sprayer. It also helps you keep abreast of new best practises and the law," says Dr Wise

A new Sprayer Operator Register is being launched this summer to help with up-dating. It will be open to all operators, whether they hold an NPTC Certificate or "Grandfather" exemption, provided they regularly attend recognised training events.

"Adopting new techniques and skills will do far more than a tax to contain costs and reduce environmental risk," says Dr Wise.

A good start to improving operations could be to order a copy of the Art of Spray Application from Syngenta (0800-6524216).