Gristwood & Toms tools up for OPM battle with new sprayers

Arboricultural contractor Gristwood & Toms has taken delivery of three specialist spraying machines worth £60,000 to help in the fight to control oak processionary moth.

Oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) caterpillars - image:Kleuske
Oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea) caterpillars - image:Kleuske
The Hertfordshire-based company was one of three contractors funded by Defra last year to control the invasive moths, whose caterpillars cause rashes and breathing difficulties in people.

G&T business development manager Mark Townsend said: "The Defra funding has helped us make this investment."

He explained that the three models, all from Italian supplier Tifone, are different to cope with different situations. One works off a truck's PTO (power take-off) shaft, one fits on a pickup, and the other is a self-standing "crawler".

He added: "Between us we treated around 120,000 trees on 300 sites last season. We curtailed the spread to 15 per cent - that is, the affected area went from 90 to 110 sq km.

"This year we begin on 28 April. The aim is to eradicate the moth from the Pangbourne (Berkshire) area and restrict it in other areas."

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