02 October 2015

CRA-W ensures quality spraying

Applying plant protection products via a sprayer is part of life on many Belgian farms. However, proper sprayer functioning is a critical factor that can have consequences not only for the environment and health but also in terms of the agricultural and economic efficiency of the treatment applied. Regular checks are therefore necessary, and CRA-W runs a Sprayer Inspection Service (SIP) for the purpose!

CRA-W ensures quality spraying

Since 1995 CRA-W has been responsible for carrying out and organising the mandatory inspection of agricultural sprayers in the French-speaking and German-speaking areas of Belgium. This periodical ‘technical’ inspection (every 3 years) is carried out according to a method and protocol devised in-house by CRA-W. Belgium is in fact regarded as ground-breaking in this field. For the last 20 years the Belgian example has served as a benchmark at European level and for our immediate neighbours, leading to CRA-W participating in various working parties (CEN, ISO, SPISE, Framework Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides, etc.) where its considerable expertise is called into play.

CRA-W’s SIP is currently FASFC-appointed to perform this role and has been approved by the Federal Minister for Agriculture as an inspection body. In the interest of inspection quality assurance SIP is an accredited inspection body (ISO 17020), one of only a few in Europe. In addition to creating a positive trend in equipment standards it also uses its technical expertise to raise user awareness.

 

SIP’s profile includes:

  • More than 2,000 sprayers inspected every year,
  • Methods devised by CRA-W and constantly being elaborated,
  • High-precision test equipment developed by CRA-W,
  • Qualified, trained staff (secretary and four inspectors) divided into two mobile teams who cover all parts of Wallonia. 
  • SIP is also a unique source of information via its database containing details of all the sprayers in Wallonia and a record of their inspection results to date. The resulting statistical analyses regularly serve as a starting point when planning research projects at national or European level.
  • SIP’s work has resulted in a significant improvement in plant protection product application equipment. Nowadays less than 10% of the sprayers fail their first inspection compared with more than 25% in 1996. After the inspection the user repairs the sprayer following the advice provided by the diagnosis-oriented inspection.

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