29 March 1996

Sprayer MOTs draw nearer in the UK

THE day is dawning when UK farmers will be required to have their sprayers tested for condition, accuracy and calibration. Sprayer tests, it will be recalled, are already mandatory in several European countries including Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Pre-empting the implication of such a testing regime being imposed in the UK, is the Agricultural Engineers Association. With the intention of preventing the implementation of an "unworkable, bureaucratic scheme", the AEA has taken the initiative and formulated a sprayer testing procedure it hopes will meet with agreement throughout the industry.

"The test offers a thorough, practicable and economic health-check," says technical director, Ron Saunders. "We do not wish to see a costly bureaucratic scheme imposed on the industry."

Mr Saunders insists the AEA has no commercial interest in operating test centres, providing examiners or a certification service. That raises the question of just who would be responsible for overseeing tests, appointing examiners and deciding where, when and how frequently tests are to be carried out. And who pays for it.

The test is split in to five basic parts:

&#8226 Mechanical safety: Which deals with the overall condition of the sprayer in terms of guards, structure and hitch points.

&#8226 Ancillaries: A look at the hydraulic, electrical and pneumatic systems.

&#8226 Delivery system: A thorough testing of tank, boom, hoses, controls and pressure gauge.

&#8226 Application system: A test of nozzle performance – flow rate, pattern and agitation.

&#8226 Accessories: A test for add-on equipment such as chemical induction systems, tank rinse, clothing locker and clean water supply.

There is still no indication when or even if a sprayer test will be imposed but the AEA argues that inaccurate application of pesticides through the use of poorly maintained sprayers is against everyones interest.

"We have taken the initiative by formulating the test procedure," says Mr Saunders. "It is up to the judgement of companies and the decision-making of the legislators as to how it could be transposed into a test scheme."

Annual test for sprayers? Response to the AEA sprayer test protocol from MAFF and DoE officials is reported to have been "very positive".