Pesticides - Best Practice Guides


Record Keeping

Why keep records?

Keeping accurate and detailed records is an essential part of modern farming and a basic requirements of good management. It is also a legal requirement for some aspects of storing and using sprays.
Spray record keeping need not involve vast amounts of paperwork, but it does require some organisation and management. Whilst it may seem tedious, the modest investment of time and effort involved will be repaid by numerous benefits.

  • Traceability. Quality assurance schemes such as the Assured Combinable Crops Scheme and Assured Produce demand a cradle to grave history of each crop, of which the spraying records form a vital part.
  • Accountability. Farmers are increasingly under pressure not only to adopt sound practices but also to be able to demonstrate that they are doing so. Records provide the peace of mind of knowing that answers are available if questions are asked.
  • Measures of Performance against pre-set expenditure or environmental targets in an ICM system.
  • Provision of information, for example to emergency services in the event of fire, theft or an accident. Also, information to meet enquirys from bankers, insurers neighbours or staff.
  • Better and more economical stock management of pesticides in store.
  • Fulfilment of legal obligations to workers under COSHH Regulations and the Code of Practice.
  • Achievement of ISO 9002/14001 accreditation.
  • Internal auditing purposes to help identify areas for action or improvement.

Operator safety and health:

  • Keep all records of maintenance checks on sprayer performance for at least five years.
  • In all but simple and obvious cases, a written record of any COSHH assessment must be kept. The assessment must record the risks that have been identified and the steps necessary to control the exposure.
  • Regular health surveillance may be needed if operators are likely to use any product that may affect their health and there is a reasonable likelihood that this health effect may occur. Personal records must be kept for 40 years (in practice this is most likely to apply where anticholinesterase organophosphate or carbamate based compounds are used). Ask the HSE ErgAS for advice.
  • Exposure records, which do not involve individuals, should be retained for five years.
  • Record details of all equipment testing, especially Respiratory Protective Equipment, and keep the records for five years.

Before spraying:

  • Check that spray operators have valid Certificates of Competence for all application machinery they may have to use. Keep a photocopy of the certificates in a safe place so that they can be produced on demand. The operator should retain the original.
  • Record dates and details of sprayer overhaul and maintenance checks.
  • Record dates and details of pre-season calibration check.
  • If appropriate, record contacts with local beekeepers via the local NFU beekeepers liaison officer.
  • Record the results of your COSHH assessment.
  • Maintain a pesticide purchase record and a stock list in the store and in the farm office.
  • Record with dates all movements of stock in and out of the store to allow operation of a first-in first-out rotation policy thus avoiding the risk of leaving products to deteriorate on the store shelf.
  • If appropriate, do a LERAP (Local Environmental Risk Assessment for Pesticides) assessment and retain it for three years.
  • Check whether a site authorisation is required from the Environment Agency for disposal of waste pesticide.

When spraying record on a field by field basis:

  • Product used, dose and application volume.
  • Operators name.
  • Equipment used.
  • Date and time.
  • Wind speed and direction.
  • Other weather conditions such as temperature and rainfall.
  • Growth stage of the crop.
  • The harvest interval (if any) to be observed and harvest date.
  • Details of Personal Protective Equipment used.
  • if a LERAP has been followed.
  • When applying a product under a specific off-label approval (SOLA), record the Notice of Approval number. This is a requirement of the Fresh Produce Consortiums Code of Practice for Pesticide Control.
  • Where a contractor is used, ensure that these records are noted and that a copy of them is kept at all times on the farm and retained for at least three years.
  • Keep records of any aerial applications in accordance with the rules outlines by the Civil Aviation Authority (booklet CAP414).

After spraying:

  • Record method and location of disposal of surplus diluted product and the sprayer washings.
  • Record method of disposal of empty containers. If buried, record the location and quantities of containers.
  • Record general health of crop and degree of pest control achieved.
  • Record putting up warning signs (if relevant).
  • At harvest, record yield, harvest date and relevant quality measurements.
  • Record post-harvest treatment and spraying.
  • Retain all records for three years.

This guide was produced by the Crop Protection Association. It is currently under review.

April 2004.

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