Hot Topic: Decline in Sprayer Testing Raises Concerns.


NSTS – Amenity Forum newsletter Hot Topic:

Decline in sprayer testing raises concerns: 

The number of sprayer tests in amenity has declined which is of real concern Sprayer owners and operators are all too aware of the importance of having a machine that is well maintained and regularly calibrated. To help protect the environment and watercourses pesticides need to be applied safely and accurately and to support this sprayer testing is also an important factor. Now a legal requirement under the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD), sprayer testing has been around for a long time and until recently the figures have been increasing year on year. In 2018 however, there was a fall in numbers overall, but the big concern was a 35% reduction in the amenity sector. There are various reasons the fall could be attributed to and one of these may be that older machines are not being replaced and a contractor is now used. In agriculture there has been a move towards bigger sprayers and wider booms, thus reducing the need for multiple machines, but this may not be so relevant in amenity. Other than Red Tractor assurance schemes, before SUD there wasn’t a requirement for sprayers to be tested but many machines operating in the amenity sector were being tested annually on a voluntary basis.

Now, it is not necessary to have new sprayers tested until they are five years old and then re-test at different intervals depending on boom width or type of sprayer. However, with less than 700 sprayers tested in the amenity sector in 2018 (compared to around 950 in 2017) this is likely to still only equate to a small fraction of the number of sprayers operating in the sector. Fortunately for operators of handheld equipment there is no need to have them NSTS tested. They still need to be inspected regularly and repaired if necessary and there is a checklist for knapsack sprayers available on the NSTS website. It is vital we hold on to as many of the active ingredients available to continue an integrated approach to weed, pest and disease control. There are a range of other options available and it is important to consider each when completing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. If the decision is made that a pesticide is the best option, appropriately trained staff using a tested sprayer will significantly reduce the risk of misapplication. With tight work schedules and even tighter budgets to work to it’s always difficult to prioritise what needs to be done but best practice should always be high on the list for whatever task is at hand. Full details of the requirements can be found HERE or contact NSTS for further information on

Ian Forman – NSTS Manager