Sprayer legislation: Are you pelleting legally?

Does the person spreading slug pellets on your farm have the necessary qualifications?

Simply having the PA2 crop sprayer qualification isn’t enough in many cases, according to City & Guilds (formerly the National Proficiency Tests Council). We asked them what’s changed and what qualifications are now needed.

What is the new qualification?

Since June 2010, the PA4 test (granular pesticide application) has been split into a PA4G unit, which covers granules, such as nematicides, and a PA4S unit for slug pellets.

Why has it been introduced?

Applying slug pellets incorrectly can very easily lead to contamination of water courses – just one pellet in a water course can trigger an excedence of the 0.1 parts per billion limit.

The new test ensures successful candidates who apply pellets are aware of the risks and how to avoid making a mistake.

Can I still apply pellets with my PA2 certificate?

It is illegal to spread slug pellets without a PA4 granular application certificate. Those operators who took their PA2 course before June 1994 received the granular application certificate automatically. Since then it has been necessary to take a separate PA4 examination.

Those PA4 certificates, whether taken specifically or awarded automatically, allow the holder to apply both granular pesticides and slug pellets, as before.

Nevertheless, you are strongly advised to attend one of the slug-pelleting seminars (SPS) that have been taking place across the country since September 2009.

PA4 tests taken after June 2010 are specific to slug-pelleters (PA4S) or granular applicators (PA4G).

Although it is not legally necessary if you already hold PA4, you can still take the test to upgrade your certificate to prove beyond doubt that you are up to date.

Regulations and crop assurance protocols are changing in this area, so if you only hold a PA4, you should check you are still permitted to apply slug pellets and whether this may jeopardise your crop assurance certification.

I don’t have any PA certificates. What’s involved?

You first need to take a PA1, if you don’t already hold one. This is the foundation unit that covers the legislation through the approved code of practice. This is now a computer-based multiple choice test, and candidates get their results at the end of the test.

Once PA1 has been achieved, candidates take either PA4S or PA4G. These are both practical tests where the assessor observes the candidate completing a series of tasks relevant to their choice of applicator and its use. Again, the candidate will know at the end of the test whether they have been successful.

I attended one of the SPS seminars between 2009 and 2011. Do I still need to take the test?

Under a derogation from CRD, those who held PA2 and attended the SPS seminars and took the brief test at the end, were awarded a PA4S. But if you did not take the test, you will not have your PA4S.

If you attended an SPS seminar, passed the short test at the end and did not hold any PA units previously you were then able to apply slug pellets provided you took and passed PA1 first.

However this derogation was only valid until July 2011 so you are no longer allowed to apply slug pellets, unless you have now taken and passed the PA4S test.

Do grandfather rights still apply?

If you were born before 31 December 1964, you do not need to hold a certificate to apply pesticides.

But it is a legal requirement under the Control of Pesticides Regulations to have some training, so you are strongly advised to attend an SPS seminar. Grandfather rights are due to be phased out.

If you are applying pesticides on land not owned or occupied by you or your immediate employer, you must have the relevant qualifications – grandfather rights do not apply.

Similarly if you are directly supervising someone who does not hold a certificate but is required to handle pesticides, you must hold the relevant certificate.

City & Guilds Slug-pelleting seminars. Further explanation of SPS training.

City & Guilds training requirements for slug pelleters. A table that explains what training is required.

City & Guilds training requirements for slug pelleters. A table that explains what training is required.

City & Guilds list of training providers.

Metaldehyde Stewardship Group. Rates, advice on applicator set-up, latest news and more.