PUBLIC perception of crop spraying is generally hostile.
So for appearances as well as economic efficiency and environmental protection, the job must always be done to the highest possible standard, says LEAF Co-ordinator Caroline Drummond.
Images lead to perceptions. Remember that fine spray droplets are highly visible. Although representing only a small percentage of the total spray volume, they can appear worrying to the public.
Avoiding spray drift must be one of the main aims, says Miss Drummond. Choose a nozzle and spray pressure which gives the coarsest spray quality compatible with product efficacy. This, combined with an appropriate boom height and speed, will do much to reduce drift risk and damaging images.
Avoid putting the public or their perceptions at risk when spraying near footpaths. Remember the Green Code says that public rights of way should always be open and not over-sprayed. Adequate warning notices should also be in place. But take them down as soon as they are no longer appropriate to avoid unnecessary concern.
Take great care when spraying near high profile public areas like houses, schools, hospitals and waterways. If the wind direction creates a hazard, use an acceptably coarser spray quality, leave a headland strip untreated or come back later to finish off. Remember it is often less windy early and late in the day.
The requirements of Assurance Schemes and LERAP recording will help to ensure that products are not used outside approvals for crop, harvest interval, maximum dose rate or buffer zone. This will build public confidence in food and environmental quality. *
IN THE PUBLIC EYE
• Encourage public confidence in spraying.
• Small drift volumes may seem large.
• Use due diligence near footpaths.
• Take care near vulnerable areas.
• Monitor and improve procedures.