National Sprayer Testing Scheme continues to grow

More than 14,200 sprayers were tested last year as part of the National Sprayer Testing Scheme, the highest number since the initiative was launched in 2003.

This number equates to 85.7% of the total sprayed area in the UK and is largely due to the scheme becoming a recognised part of agriculture and a requirement of crop assurance schemes, according to NSTS manager, Duncan Russell.

Of the sprayers tested, more than 62% required repairs or modifications. Causes were largely the same as in previous years; leaks and drips, worn nozzles and faulty pressure guages accounting for a large percentage.

Because the NSTS test works in the same way as a car MOT, all failures have to be repaired before the machine returns to work. “This means that operators can be sure that machines are working efficiently and safely for them and the environment,” added Mr Russell.

The NSTS is a precursor to the Sustainable Use Directive consultation, which comes into force at the end of 2011 and requires that sprayers are tested every five years, falling to every three years from 2020. NSTS will continue to be promoted as part of the voluntary initiative and a requirement of crop assurance schemes as well as supermarket protocols.