Increasing public scrutiny of the sector was a key point highlighted at the recent Amenity Forum training and update event hosted by Greenmount Campus, CAFRE.
Professionals from golf courses, landscape contractors, city and district councils and training organisations attended the programme, which focused on pesticide-related issues.
Professor John Moverley, chairman of the forum, emphasised how public perception of spraying against weeds, pests and diseases underline the importance of good decision making when considering such control options.
This led to a discussion of the training and competence development available for professional users through BASIS and NPTC facilitated by Peter Corbett, BASIS Registration.
Nigel Chadwick of the Chemical Regulations Directorate presented the latest information on how current legislation and product approvals impact on agricultural production practice, and how greater attention is now being directed towards pesticide use in non-food situations i.e. public and private green spaces. This leads to even more scrutiny on application practice, so that responsible treatments are a vital component of protecting product approvals in the longer term.
Ian Forman, from the National Sprayer Testing Scheme, said not only do all professional operators need to be qualified themselves, but also they should only use equipment which has been professionally tested through the NSTS. This becomes a legal requirement from 26 November 2016, and applies to all trailed and seated sprayers with boom width greater than 3m and older than five years.
The serious implications of soil runoff when agrochemicals are applied in poor weather or field conditions was also outlined by NI Water's Roy Taylor. He appealed to the meeting to take professional advice on best use of such materials.