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Safety and quality standards for ground-based locust and grasshopper sprayers do not exist in all FAO member countries and existing international standards for this type of equipment are often inappropriate for many member countries. Since 1995 FAO-AGST has worked on the formulation of guidelines to improve the safety and efficiency of the most commonly used types of spray equipment.

The first versions of the FAO guidelines on pesticide application equipment were approved for publication in May 1997 by the FAO Panel of Experts on Pesticide Specifications, Registration Requirements, Application Standards and Prior Informed Consent and the FAO Panel of Experts on Agricultural Engineering.

These current FAO guidelines on minimum requirements for locust and grasshopper sprayers are based on existing international, European and national standards, and other published references. They also build on the other FAO guidelines relating to other more mainstream agricultural sprayer types.

The other guidelines on minimum requirements and standards are presented in separate volumes covering different categories of spray equipment, such as the principal types of portable (operator-carried) sprayers, vehicle-mounted and trailed (tractor) sprayers and others.

However, locust and grasshopper spraying uses a special technique known as ultra low volume spraying (ULV). This generally uses very small droplets of pesticide formulations that are oil or solvent based to prevent evaporation, and utilizes the wind to transport and deposit the spray. ULV spraying requires specialized sprayers, not normally useable for other types of agricultural spraying, nor are conventional sprayers suitable for ULV spraying. The preliminary specifications for these specialist locust and grasshopper requirements took place at two workshops held in Cairo in 1994 and 2002, which set some initial design and performance criteria and evaluated the main locust sprayers available commercially. In addition, two academic studies (Al Alawi, 2001 and Ishfaque, 2004) informed the process of development of these guidelines.

This publication is the First Part of the FAO locust and grasshopper sprayer guidelines. There are two parts to each guideline; the first covers minimum requirements - a baseline qualifying level of safety, performance and reliability that locust and grasshopper sprayers must reach - and the second covers more precise standards and rigorous test procedures to determine compliance with them.

Guidelines on minimum requirements

An important objective of the guidelines on minimum requirements is to assist FAO and other agencies to ensure that sprayers purchased are safe to users and to the environment as well as being efficient and durable in operation. Price will always play an important part in purchase decisions on equipment but even the cheapest sprayer models should satisfy minimum requirements for safety, performance and durability.

The FAO minimum requirements take into account sprayers that are already commercially available, some of which already meet the requirements. The prime objective therefore is that locust-affected member countries should adopt these minimum requirements immediately, to begin to eliminate substandard and unsafe sprayers from national markets and ultimately from the international scene.

The guidelines on minimum requirements are presented in separate volumes covering different categories of spray equipment, such as the principal types of portable (operator-carried) sprayers, vehicle-mounted and trailed (tractor) sprayers and others. This is the first specialized FAO guideline relating to one particular category of pest and application method - namely ULV spraying of locusts and grasshoppers.

Guidelines on standards and test procedures

The guidelines on standards are more demanding than the minimum requirements and provide more precise safety targets for spray equipment. They consist of more detailed design and performance specifications, supported by test procedures to assess compliance with these specifications. These standards reflect current manufacturing practice, other national and international standards and the practical reality in the field. Separate volumes of the standards cover different categories of sprayers manufactured or used in FAO member countries.

The aim of both the minimum requirements and the standards guidelines is to provide manufacturers and governments with a practical and consistent quality assurance system. Each member country can then decide on the form and speed of introduction of the respective guidelines into national practice and into legislation where appropriate.

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