Crop sprayer spraying pesticides on to wheat© Tim Scrivener

Every sprayer operator must hold a recognised certificate of competence to apply pesticides from this week after new EU rules come into force.

So-called “grandfather rights” for older sprayer workers will end on Thursday 26 November.

Up until now, the exemption allowed those born before 31 December 1964 to use professional pesticides as part of a commercial service without such a certificate.

From Thursday, anyone spraying pesticides will need to be properly trained and qualified, regardless of age and experience.

The European legislation affects everyone using professional pesticides, such as weedkillers, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides or slug pellets is affected – including grassland and arable farmers.

See also: What to do when sprayer ‘grandfather rights’ expire

Anyone using professional pesticides will need to have a certificate prior to making the application, unless they are being supervised for the purpose of training by someone who holds such a certificate.

From 26 November, it also becomes an offence for anyone to purchase pesticides authorised for professional use unless they have ensured that the intended end-user holds the relevant specified certificate(s).

The Voluntary Initiative has produced a poster to promote awareness of the law changes for use in stores selling professional pesticides to ensure customers are aware of their obligations. To order a poster email enquiries@agindustries.org.uk.

Hazel Doonan, head of crop protection at the Agricultural Industries Confederation, said: “It’s important that everyone understands their legal obligations in relation to the ending of grandfather rights, and the purchase and use of professional pesticides. 

“This change in legislation could have serious consequences for anyone caught out.”

Those who fail to comply with the new rules could face penalties, such as a reduction in their single farm payment. 

What certification do I need to hold to spray pesticides?

  • The City & Guilds NPTC Level 2 Award in the Safe Use of Pesticides Replacing Grandfather Rights.
  • Or, a level 2 award in the safe use of pesticides AND all relevant application modules for the type of application undertaken (for example, PA2 and PA6).

Where can I go to complete the training?