Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization

Pesticides application guidelines

In many countries, the technical considerations for a safe and correct application of pesticides and herbicides are often neglected, unknown or not regulated. This has a great environmental impact and represents a hazard for the health of farmers and consumers of agricultural products. Great amounts of pesticides are wasted, spilled or unnecessarily applied. A large number of people involved in their application suffer intoxication because of the lack of awareness of the technical principles of safe application and due to the poor conditions or lack of quality of the equipment used.

Inadequate application techniques have environmental implications apart from the direct contamination of soil and aquifers and the risk this implies to ecosystems. It is often one of the reasons why biological products, such as non-chemical alternatives to synthetic pesticides, fail on a commercial scale.

FAO is addressing these concerns through several initiatives. Standards have been formulated for safer and more efficient application equipment and guidelines have been developed on the introduction of the respective regulatory framework. The minimum requirements are based on international, European and national standards and provide practical aid for purchasing and to avoid buying or approving sprayers with quality and design limitations. These guidelines are used as the reference when authorizing the distribution of pesticide application equipment through FAO or FAO-related programmes. The series on minimum requirements consists of four volumes:

- Volume One: Portable (operator-carried) sprayers

- Volume Two: Vehicle – mounted and trailed sprayers

- Volume Three: Portable (operator-carried) foggers

- Volume Four: Ground-based locust and grasshopper sprayers