BASIS course aims for best and safest use of pesticides
By John Allan
UNDERSTANDING the need for pesticides, the reasons behind their activity, their safety to crops, humans and the environment, and identifying their targets, all lies within the scope of a new course for farmers and farm managers.
The BASIS Certificate in Farmers Crop Protection Manage-ment does not allow holders to advise others. But it does put farmers in a better position to make best and safest use of pesticides.
One of the farmers involved in developing the course was Howard Kirk, crop manager and agronomist for Blankney Estates, Lincs.
"I came away having learnt a lot and with my own action plan," says Mr Kirk, who attended the two-day pilot course at the Caythorpe Campus of De Montfort University. "It was so useful that the three farm managers who manage just over 14,000 acres within the group are now attending the courses."
The course comprises two separate days with a week between. The second day ends with an exam, based on multi-choice questions and a few short, written answers.
"People attending the course should at least have been on the PA1 Pesticide Foundation Course, be conversant with modern practice and preferably have several years experience on the farm to get the best from it," feels Mr Kirk.
Many decisions on pesticide use are made by agronomists and advi-sers, rather than farmers, he points out. "It will be useful for farmers, managers and foremen to know the reasons behind what they are doing, rather than just getting a piece of paper from an adviser.
"This course tells you what dose rates are all about, what the products are and why they are mixed as they are."
Although the course stopped short of identifying every pest and disease, guidelines to aid field identification were supplied. The types of nozzle needed to meet the spray quality requirements of different products were also defined.
Candidates on the pilot course found group discussion gave them a better understanding of inte-grated crop management. But there was a lot to take in, says Mr Kirk. "On pesticide legislation and the safety and approval process there was really too much to cram in to a short time."
As a result candidates on the first full course at Caythorpe had Codes of Practice and questions sent to them a week in advance so they could prepare.
Mr Kirk has no hesitation in recommending the course as "good value for money". *
• Pest control needs and ICM.
• Legislation, approval and safety.
• How pesticides work.
• Recognition of weeds, pests, diseases and disorders.
• Setting objectives.
• Pesticide application.
• Assessing results.
• Two days of training followed by one-hour exam.