Farmers are being warned only recognised certificates will qualify them to spray chemicals legally in the UK under changes to pesticide laws due later this year.
From 26 November, anyone applying crop protection products must hold a recognised certificate, such as City & Guilds PA1 and 2A or 6A.
The National Register of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO) said it had received a number of calls from farmers who hold crop-spraying certificates they achieved under the now defunct Agricultural Training Board (ATB).
See also: Get ready for sprayer rules changes
Some sprayer operators have been shocked to learn that the qualifications they gained in the early 1990s did not exempt them from forthcoming changes to crop spraying rules.
One 70-year-old Lincolnshire farmer, who did not want to be named, said: “I attended an ATB training course in either 1992 or 1993, which included a crop spraying test the following day.
“I found my PA1 and 2 certificates the other day. I thought these would mean I didn’t need to requalify. But when I phoned NRoSO, they told me I had to take a recognised City & Guilds NPTC course in the Safe Use of Pesticides replacing Grandfather Rights.”
A NRoSO spokeswoman said although the farmer held ATB certificates, if he didn’t register his qualifications with them at the time, he would be required to qualify again.
“When farmers attended the spraying course under the old ATB, they had the option the same day, or the next day to do the assessment (practical crop spraying test),” said the spokeswoman.
“If they did that, the assessor would give them a yellow book to prove they had taken the test. It would then have been the candidate’s responsibility to send that book to us so they could be registered and certified.
“We do have candidates who didn’t send the book to us. That ATB qualification is very old and we actually don’t accept it any more. We stopped it five years ago.
“However, if they sent the slip to us, then we would have a record of them achieving it.”
NRoSO said it held a central register of sprayer operators for anybody who holds an appropriate City & Guilds NPTC PA certificate of competence for spraying agrichemicals.
Currently, anyone born before 31 December 1964 is allowed to use Plant Protection Products (PPPs), authorised for professional use on their own or their employer’s land without an operator’s certificate of competence, although they should be “suitably trained and competent for their job”, according to the Health and Safety Executive.
However, after 26 November 2015, those who previously relied on “grandfather rights” must hold a recognised Certificate of Competence in the Safe Use of Pesticides.