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NRoSO: What is it and why golf clubs and greenkeepers need to know about it

This article first appeared in On Course - Issue 24

Weeds, pests and diseases can present a range of problems in golf courses. Specialist companies make and supply pesticides to help control these particular problems, but how do greenkeepers know how to make best use of them? How do they keep up-to-date with the legislation and regulations that apply to the use of pesticides?

THE NATIONAL REGISTER of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO) was formed in 2003 as part of the Voluntary Initiative (VI) within landbased industries. Its aim was to prove safe and responsible use of pesticides. The NRoSO scheme was developed to help demonstrate Continuing Professional Development (CPD) - such as update training, seminars and conferences - in a way that farmers, groundsmen and other sprayer operators could understand and use.

Changing the behaviour of pesticide users is a central pillar of the VI and this is frequently facilitated by training. NRoSO is a "professional register" designed around CPD and training, thus helping to raise standards for all sprayer operators and advisors. Training helps to provide a better understanding of application of sprays, a better understanding of the environmental effects of crop protection, and to ensure that they are used safely and effectively. Pesticides are powerful tools and can be used to great benefit, but misuse can have devastating effects. Training gives the confidence to all concerned that their use will be to best effect.

The public who have access to golf courses probably has little understanding of the products you use, and tend to have a negative view towards any form of pesticide treatment. Being a member of NRoSO will be a useful message for golfers and other members of the public to prove your professionalism in showing that you are taking your duties as a sprayer operator responsibly, and are sufficiently interested in the effects of the products you use to keep up to date and to continue to develop your skills.

The VI is now in its sixth year and has continued to meet or exceed the targets set for it. NRoSO membership was part of the VI plan, but has developed a real purpose of its own in helping sprayer operators access the sort of training that is relevant to their needs. It has enabled sprayer operators to share best practice and improve their skills. The current focus is on the latest thinking on water protection and covers advice on filling and handling practices and managing soils to prevent run off. Simple improvements in practices can have dramatic improvements on the residues found in water courses.

All sprayer operators on a golf course have a duty of care to the public on their courses, and to the environment that they work in. Being a NRoSO member and accessing CPD training represents a responsible way forward for the industry.

National Sprayer Testing Scheme: Why it's important that all sprayers should be tested

WHETHER YOU HAVE your own sprayer or engage contractors, you
need to be aware of the National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS). There has been much discussion around the relevance of the NSTS in the golf course and amenity sectors. Why should small machines need to be tested when they are not by their nature large appliers of pesticide?

But look at it another way, writes NSTS manager, Duncan Russell. All machines - no matter what size or how much pesticide is applied - need to make that application accurately and safely for both the environment and the operator.

The NSTS test achieves exactly that - an independent person looking at the sprayer to make sure it is in good working condition and capable of applying pesticides correctly. All the more important when the machine is working in very public environments such as golf courses and amenity parks.

This annual test has many benefits:

  • It confirms that the machine is kept in good working condition and is unlikely to fail or break down when carrying out an important spraying operation.

  • The machine is working correctly and capable, when operated by a
    qualified operator, of applying the correct dose of pesticide on target.

  • It confirms the machine is safe to use from the operator's perspective, helps confirm the requirements of Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) and confirms a general duty of care to members and public alike.

  • It will reduce the need for potentially expensive emergency call outs by the service engineer should the sprayer fail during a spraying operation.

  • A sprayer kept in good condition is likely to be worth more as a trade-in against a new updated machine.

  • It helps confi rm that the sprayer owners are supporting the aims of the Voluntary Initiative (VI) in reducing the impact of pesticides on the environment and gives notice of a professional and responsible attitude to pesticide application.

The NSTS has been testing liquid application machinery since 1 January 2003 and to date has carried out more than 32,000 tests. The scheme is part of the VI that has delivered genuine environmental benefits.

The NSTS has a nationwide network of qualified machine examiners who have the necessary specialist equipment to test a machine to the standards required. A list of these examiners is available from the NSTS website where machine owners can choose their nearest or preferred sprayer examiner.

Also available from the website is a check-sheet which can be used by
machine owners and operators to precheck their sprayers before submitting them for independent examination. This check-sheet can also be used for regular maintenance and mid season checks. The NSTS is available for all forms of liquid application from specialist self propelled golf course machines through small mounted sprayers to barrow sprayers and knapsacks. All can be tested within the scheme and will benefit from this regular checking system.

  • Full details of the NSTS are available from the NSTS website.

Duncan Russell
NSTS Manager
Tel: 01733 362925

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