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1st European Workshop on Standardised Procedure for the Inspection of Sprayers in Europe –SPISE

The inspection of sprayers, which means the periodic inspection of sprayers in use, was the theme of the first European workshop, which took place at the Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry (BBA) in Braunschweig from 27 to 29 April 2004. The basis for the workshop was the publication of a European norm at the beginning of last year, in which the technical requirements for the inspection of field crop sprayers and air-assisted sprayers for bush and tree crop was determined for the whole of Europe. This is seen as an important component in the harmonisation of sprayer inspections in Europe.

The aim of the workshop was to introduce this new standard to all the European Member States and candidate countries and to promote its implementation to create a reliable sprayer inspection of high technical quality. Since in addition to countries such as Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland – which introduced a compulsory inspection for sprayers several years ago – other Member States and candidate countries are discussing and preparing themselves for the introduction of sprayer inspections, the timing of the workshop was very fortunate. Eighty experts from 20 Member States and candidate countries came to Braunschweig.

The President of the BBA, Dr. Georg F. Backhaus, and the head of Plant Protection Department at the Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture (BMVEL), Dr. Petzold, opened the workshop and in doing so, emphasised the significance of this issue and this European initiative of the BBA. The Commission was also represented and presented its views with regard to possible ways of governing sprayers. The technical part of the Workshop was introduced by two keynotes, presented by Mr. Liegeois on the subject of "Thematic strategy on the sustainable use of pesticides: an action plan to improve good plant protection practices throughout Europe“ and Dr. Ganzelmeier on "European Standard EN 13790, the basis for sprayer inspections in Europe".

Mr. Liegeois emphasised in his presentation that the Commission has also included a number of measures for improving sprayer technology in the context of its environmental protection strategy. A first meeting of experts took place at the end of March 2004 in Brussels on aerial applications in the Member States. The SPISE workshop can be seen as the first European forum for exchanging experience and discussing measures for inspecting sprayers throughout Europe, and co-ordinating these in the future.

Dr. Ganzelmeier explained the first European standard EN 13790: work was started on this in the CEN/TC144 in 1997. It was published in the spring of 2003. First of all, this standard states, amongst other things, the following:

Over the past few years, the inspection of sprayers already in use has been introduced in various Member States and candidate countries. This development has been supported by public concern about possible hazards, and efforts to reduce the amount of plant protection products used. The three most important reasons for the inspection are

  • the reduction of the risk to the environment through plant protection products,
  • optimum plant protection using the least amount of plant protection product possible and
  • the safety of inspection personnel.

In order to make the use of plant protection products in European agricultural production safe, requirements and test methods for the inspection of sprayers already in use must be determined. This is a step further in the same direction following the standardisation of requirements for new sprayers relevant to environmental protection. Furthermore, it is stated that sprayers can be inspected on a voluntary basis, but also as an obligatory inspection. In both cases, detailed official or legal agreements are necessary on, for example, the implementation of inspections, the authorisation of places allowed to carry out inspections, the intervals between inspections, and so on. This European standard now determines requirements and methods for inspecting sprayers which are already in use. Through visual inspections, performance tests and by carrying out measurements, compliance with the specified requirements can be examined. A total of about 40 different requirements are stated which have to be tested during the inspection and recorded in the inspection report.

According to Germany, there is merely one issue, regarding the measurement of the evenness of transverse distribution from field sprayers, which is not yet governed clearly. Two different test methods are still allowed: in addition to a cross-distribution test bench (patternator), the assessment of flow rate using individual nozzle measurements is allowed. The future will show whether the acknowledged equality of both methods works.

 

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As already mentioned, this standard does not govern all aspects of the sprayer inspection. More extensive administrative regulations (S 2), technical prerequisites (S 3) and a quality assurance system (S 4) are needed, fig. 2. To be able to implement these associative measures in a binding form in all Member States and candidate countries when appropriate, further superordinate rules and regulations are necessary. This could be in the way of a binding legal regulation in the EU or a voluntary commitment of the Member States and candidate countries (memorandum, network). The following sections were therefore arranged as follows:

S 1: Actual inspections in the Member States and candidate countries and their comparison with EN 13790
S 2: Administrative regulations required for establishing an inspection
S 3: Technical prerequisites required for conducting inspections
S 4: Quality management for inspections
S 5: Harmonisation of inspections for mutual recognition between Member States

The present situation regarding sprayer inspections in the Member States and candidate countries is clear by looking at fig. 3 and 4. It is marked at present by great differences between the Member States and candidate countries. It shows that at present, sprayer inspections are obligatory by law only in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland. Several countries intend to introduce an obligatory inspection in the next few years. In several Member States or candidate countries, a voluntary sprayer inspection either exists or is in the process of being established. In many cases, the inspection is organised and implemented in a different manner, depending on the particular region.

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In addition, the annual inspections deviate clearly from one another, even in countries which have already introduced obligatory inspections, fig. 4.


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The presentations were complemented by posters, an exhibition of test facilities from European manufacturers/distributors in and around the testing hall of the Division for Application Techniques, and an excursion to approved inspection workshops.

The results of the SPISE-Workshop can be summarised as follows:

The sprayer inspection is seen by the participants as a major contribution to high quality environmental and operator protection as well as food safety. Most Member States and candidate countries are involved in the introduction of a sprayer inspection (pilot project, voluntary inspection or obligatory inspection). Particularly interesting was that the European Commission does not see the need for further technical requirements for sprayer already in use and for new plant protection equipment which go beyond EN 13790 and EN 12761. Representatives from the Member States and candidate countries propose a sprayer inspection which is uniform throughout the EU and endorse the implementation of EN 13790 by the Member States and candidate countries. It was also evident that in the Member States, the organisation, responsibility (private, state-approved) and consequences of the inspection (if requirements are not fulfilled) are governed in very different ways. Often, the inspection facilities do not fulfil requirements in accordance with EN 13790. The Member States and candidate countries use different test benches for measuring the vertical distribution of air-assisted sprayers. The Member States and candidate countries therefore see the need for further administrative and technical agreements which go beyond EN 13790, in the following areas:

  • commitment to a voluntary / obligatory inspection
  • organisation / competencies
  • test procedure for both new and used sprayers
  • approved inspection workshops
  • definition of "minor defects"
  • consequences if requirements are not met
  • guidelines for introducing sprayer inspections.

The exchange of information between Member States / candidate countries is also seen as very important and should therefore be developed further.
The quality of the inspection is determined mainly by the inspection workshop, the authorised inspection personnel and the monitoring system for approved workshops. Only a few Member States have introduced a quality assurance system (e.g. accreditation in accordance with EN 45004).

The Member States/ candidate countries therefore see an urgent need for regulating (exchange of information) quality assurance, training inspection personnel and checking the testing equipment.
At present, several individual regulations exist in the different countries, which allow mutual recognition on a bilateral level (e.g. D / NL, B / NL).
An important prerequisite for the mutual acceptance of sprayer inspections is that EN 13790 is implemented throughout the whole of the EU. A sprayer inspection for the whole of the EU should therefore only be introduced on the basis of EN 13790.
Representatives from the Member States / candidate countries also endorse the implementation of EN 12761, which contains the requirements for new plant protection equipment.
Furthermore, representatives from the Member States / candidate countries endorse the implementation of a "European Steering Committee" to support the harmonisation of the sprayer inspection and to safeguard conditions of competition. Action is seen as necessary in the following areas:

 

  • agreeing on the various regulations in the Member States and candidate countries,
  • safeguarding a reliable and precise sprayer inspection,
  • regular checks on inspection workshops regarding their way of working,
  • improving operator knowledge and
  • convincing users of the benefits of and the need for sprayer inspections.

In addition, the compilation of guidelines / instructions on the mutual recognition of inspections between Member States / candidate countries is encouraged.
Finally, the main conclusions of the SPISE-Workshop are emphasised in a joint resolution:

The participants

  • welcome the fact that the Member States / candidate countries are considering introducing sprayer inspections
  • would welcome the fact that Member States / candidate countries were to continue their work on harmonisation and mutual acceptance,
  • support the idea of a working group (B, NL, I, F, D) for preparing further steps for harmonisation in agreement with the EU-Commission and a second SPISE-Workshop in 2006
  • would welcome the continuous exchange of experience between the working group and the Member States / candidate countries.


Literature
Ganzelmeier, H., H.-J. Wehmann, 2004: First European Workshop on Standardized Procedure for the Inspection of Sprayers in Europe - SPISE - booklet 397 "Mitteilungen aus der Biologischen Bundesanstalt für Land- und Forstwirtschaft".

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