Qualifying to chemical spray

One of the most important aspects of greenkeeping is being able to apply pesticides correctly and safely when required. Not all new staff will be certified to do this so usually in the summer months every year we run qualification courses.

There are three qualifications required for our industry:

1.) PA1 – Safe use of Pesticides

This covers:

  • Safe use of pesticides COSHH (Control Of Substance Hazardous to Health) and risk assessment.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Interpretation of product labels.
  • Storage of chemicals.
  • How to handle spillages.
  • Wind speeds and other spraying conditions.
  • Disposal of empties and leftovers.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Record keeping.

This is a written exam which needs to be passed before continuing on to the PA2 and PA6. Generally people will do the PA6 first which allows you to use a knapsack applicator followed by the PA2 which is a vehicle-driven sprayer.

2.) PA6 – Hand Held Applicators

This covers:

  • Preparing the sprayer and checking components.
  • Operating the hand-held sprayer in a variety of operating circumstances.
  • Out of season maintenance and storage.
  • General safety.
  • Calibrating the knapsack sprayer.
  • Decontamination of sprayer and protective clothing.
  • Review.

The test involves:

Calculations and nozzles; selecting the correct product, rate and nozzles

The ‘jug test’ to see how much water is coming out the nozzle over a period of time

Walking speed

Spray width

Once the candidate knows the size of area to spray, they work out their water and product amounts. The solution is then sprayed, and with fingers crossed, you hope to run out just as you’re finishing the area. Throughout the whole process the assessors are checking for:

  • Correct use of PPE.
  • Filling the knapsack with the correct water to product ratio.
  • Proper use of equipment.
  • Making sure you calibrate the knapsack correctly.
  • Cleaning and washing down equipment after use.

It can take up to two hours to complete the test and during this time you are constantly being watched by the assessors for mistakes.

Under assessment

In total we had 10 staff take the PA6 qualification and everyone passed!

3.) PA2 – Boom Sprayer/Vehicle Mounted

This covers:

  • Setting and testing application rate.
  • Preparing pesticides for work and filling sprayer.
  • Spray drift and environmental factors.
  • Out of season maintenance and storage.
  • General safety.
  • Checking and fitting pump.
  • Cleaning and inspection.
  • Setting boom height.
  • Field operation.
  • Field practice.

Like the PA6, you need to know your forward speed, the amount of water coming out of all the nozzles and the spray width. It’s really a larger version of a knapsack on wheels. Where it does change is the sprayer as there’s many different pipes. The candidate needs to know the exact route the water/product takes once it’s entered into the tank to what nozzles it eventually comes out.

Vehicle mounted sprayers:

We would forgive you for thinking chemical spraying looks easy, but if you didn’t know before, you’ll appreciate now there’s a lot of important preparation required before setting off!

Words by Jon Wood, Course Manager – The Castle Course

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