By law, from 26 November 2016 all sprayers excluding knapsacks and handheld equipment will need to be formally tested and calibrated on a regular basis.
The National Sprayer Testing Scheme is the only UK body certified to carry out the testing. While around 15,000 agricultural machines are tested each year, nobody knows how many amenity machines are yet to be tested. The scheme has around 600 testers operating around the UK, and businesses can also apply for testing licenses through the scheme.
Speaking at the Amenity Forum annual conference, Grant Stark from the Chemicals Regulation Directorate said there could be a last-minute rush to get machinery tested in time. He called for suppliers to be made aware of the requirements as early as possible.
Some contractors at the conference questioned why the Government is not providing financial incentives to amenity sprayers to have machinery tested. But Stark said the new testing law is "not particularly onerous" given that until 2020 sprayers will only need to be tested once every five years, increasing in frequency thereafter.
He added that there are myriad benefits to amenity sprayers, from more efficient product use thanks to reducing leakage to demonstrating to the EU that the UK industry is meeting its obligations, discouraging more heavy-handed legislation from being passed. But he warned: "After next year, if you have not got your machine tested, you are breaking the law - whether you like it or not."