A LOCAL Environmental Risk Assessment for Pesticides, or LERAP, is now a legal responsibility when using Category B pesticides, points out Graeme Walker, HSE principal inspector specialising in pesticides.
Assessments must be recorded, kept for three years and are open to inspection and enforcement action if found wanting, he says.
Category A products are organophosphate and synthetic pyrethroid-based and must have a 5m buffer near water.
Category B products are other formulations hazardous to water which can have a 5m buffer by farmer choice or a 1-5 m buffer moderated after doing a LERAP.
Other products, sometimes mistakenly called Category C, have no buffer requirement. But label instructions must still be adhered to. Dry ditches require a 1 m buffer for Category A & B products.
Category B LERAP buffer decisions involve Star Rated nozzles, product dose rate and watercourse size, read against four charts in the Practical Guide to Local Environmental Risk Assessments for Pesticides, free from MAFF.
To avoid different buffer sizes the simplest option is to use three star rated nozzle tips on a 12m boom or boom sections alongside the buffer zone or around the headlands if this is easier, he advises. Do that and all buffers for Category B products will be 1m from the top of the watercourse bank.
But remember to record the decision to cover each field operation, whether it is to stick to an annual 5m zone for all Category B applications or modify it with a LERAP.
Recent additions to the approved list of three and two star rated nozzles means that 48 officially recognised low drift tips are available from six companies. Some are approved over a pressure range to take account of practical farm conditions. See www.maff.gov.uk.aboutmaf/agency/psd/leraps/lerap.htm for the latest approvals.
To speed work in the season, colour code a farm map to indicate dry ditch and watercourse width. *