Colin Palmer of BCTGA consultant Rural Services says many BCTGA members apply all their pesticide applications through hand held equipment and were concerned that some new pesticide approvals had prohibitions on hand held use because of extended crop sprayer aquatic buffer zones. The default aquatic buffer zone for a crop sprayer is 5m, and 1m for knapsack sprayers.
Where a pesticide is judged to be a greater hazard to the aquatic environment this crop sprayer buffer zone is extended to 6m or more.
However, the regulatory view was that the 1m rule for hand held sprayers did not take into account the increased level of hazard for such pesticides, and therefore knapsack use was prohibited.
Two of the core products used by Christmas tree growers are diflufenican and deltamethrin, and products such as Decis and Hurricane were caught by this rule, "posing considerable difficulties for the smaller grower".
The British Christmas Trees Growers Association (BCTGA) raised this issue with the UK Government pesticide regulator, CRD (Chemicals Regulatory Directorate), towards the end of 2015, and the topic was discussed at the autumn and spring Growers Group meetings with CRD.
The BCTGA proposal was that where the crop sprayer buffer zone exceeds 5m then the hand held buffer zone should be the same as for crop sprayers, thereby permitting knapsack sprayer use, but at no increased risk to the aquatic environment. This proposal was agreed by CRD and confirmed on 26 July 2016, with the new provisions coming into effect on 1 September 2016, to the benefit not only of Christmas trees growers, but also to the horticulture, forestry and agricultural sectors.