Regulatory Update: 15/2007
This Regulatory Update was updated 5 February 2008.
The conditions for safe use of pesticides are based on a combination of a product’s Conditions of Approval for use (as stated on the Notice of Approval) and the general guidance in the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products
The Conditions of Approval of use form part of the approved product label. The whole product label (other than company advisory information) has a legal basis, because the text of that label is considered as part of the application for an approval and it is a condition of that approval that the product can only be sold with that label. On the product label, the boxed Statutory or Important Information area (see regulatory updates 20/2006 and 23/2006 on the PSD website) and any text signposted from this area, will highlight those label directions that are specific conditions of the approval that cannot be varied or disregarded in any circumstances. Such conditions may include:
- the crops on which the product may be used;
- the rate at which a pesticide can be applied;
- the number of applications that can be made to a crop; and
- other specific restrictions.
You can determine which directions must be complied with by consulting the product Notice of Approval available on the PSD website.
Other directions can be varied in the light of advice given in the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products, for example:
- Water volume used for the application of product(s);
- Use of tank-mixtures;
- Use of product on crops in accordance with the requirements of the ‘Off-Label Approvals Scheme’.
By following the product label, or Off-label Approval, along with advice in the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products when using a pesticide you will be doing enough to keep within the law.
However, you may be able to work differently from the guidance contained in the Code, for example using reduced volumes (i.e. increased concentrations) of spray from those shown, as long as an appropriate risk assessment shows the different way is just as safe. For example, the manufacturer may have done a revised risk assessment for operator exposure for the product which shows that the product is safe to use at reduced volume (i.e. increased concentration).
See below for answers to questions to PSD on how to follow the product label and Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products. This will be updated as any new issues arise.
Information on cross compliance and the guidance used by Rural Payments Agency (RPA) inspectors can be found on their website.
Any further questions on this issue, please contact us: Link to Contact Details Page
Q&A - Questions relating to water volumes for product application:
This topic area has been the most frequent area of questioning for PSD. Before considering some specific questions below, it is important for advisors and end users to understand the basic issue relating to this aspect.
Any product can be applied at a lower water volume than that advised on the label provided that the concentration of the product in the water volume to be applied does not exceed the maximum concentration allowed on the product label.
For example, if the product label states a maximum product use rate of 1 litre/ha in a minimum water volume of 200 l/ha, it is also perfectly acceptable for a user to apply 0.5 litres/ha of that product in 100 l/ha – in both cases the concentration of the product in water is 0.5%.
In cases where the concentration of the product in the water is increased beyond the maximum specified on the product label, then you should refer to the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products and the Q&A below for guidance.
It should be remembered that in most instances using water volumes lower than listed on the label will mean that product efficacy is not guaranteed by the product manufacturer.
The product label states ‘Apply in 200 to 400 litres of water per hectare’. Can the same amount of product be used at a lower water volume?
Yes, subject to the limitations set out in paragraph 4.6.4 of the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products which states that you should not use reduced volumes (i.e. increased concentrations), if the label (or the relevant notice of approval):
- prohibits reduced volume spraying (for example, if there is a maximum in-use concentration or minimum application volume); or
- states that PPE must be worn when the product is at the dilution ready for use; or
- has corrosive, very toxic, toxic, or risk of serious damage to eyes on the product label
In these situations, you can still lower the water volume if you also reduce the dose of product so that the concentration of the spray solution is no greater than the maximum recommended on the product label as outlined earlier.
In addition, you may apply at reduced volume (i.e. increased concentration) if an appropriate risk assessment shows that this is just as safe. The manufacturer may have done such a risk assessment for the product.
Some product labels state that suitable PPE should be worn when applying by vehicle mounted equipment. However engineering controls may replace PPE if a COSHH assessment shows they provide an equal or higher standard of protection. In these circumstances can water volumes be reduced?
No. The Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products clearly states that reduced volume (i.e. increased concentration) spraying should not be undertaken where the pesticide's approval states that "PPE must be worn when the product is at the dilution ready for use.”
However, as explained above, you may always reduce the volume of water if you also reduce the dose of the product so that the concentration of the spray solution is no greater than the maximum recommended on the product label.
The label says that PPE should be worn when handling contaminated surfaces. Am I still able to use the product with a lower volume of water?
No. The need for PPE to be worn is assessed separately for measuring out the product into the application equipment and for the application stages. The application stages include handling booms, changing nozzles and clearing up after use which will involve contact with surfaces contaminated by diluted product. Therefore, because PPE is required to protect against exposure to the diluted product, you should not apply at reduced volume (i.e. increased concentration) unless the manufacturer has done a risk assessment that shows it is just as safe.
If the label states “apply 1 litre of product in a minimum of 200 litres of water/ha’’, does that mean it has to be applied in at least that volume?
Whether or not you can use lower water volumes (i.e. increased concentration) depends upon whether the minimum water volume is specified as a restriction on the Notice of Approval or if it is a recommendation within the label’s Directions for Use.
- If a minimum water volume is specified on the Notice of Approval then reduced volumes should not be used.
- If a minimum water volume is a recommendation in the Directions of Use then it is acceptable to use reduced volumes in line with the provisions in the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products, section 4.6.4.
When the label states ’dangerous for the environment' or 'toxic to aquatic organisms', does that mean the water volume cannot be reduced?
Products labelled as dangerous for the environment or toxic, very toxic or harmful to aquatic organisms can be applied at reduced volumes (i.e. increased concentrations) provided the criteria in the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products as shown above are met.
The product label states a maximum dose to be used. Does this mean I cannot use reduced doses?
It is completely acceptable to use doses lower than that recommended on the product label. The scope for reduction will depend on many factors (impact on product performance, resistance management and other important parameters) and you may need to get professional advice to decide on the appropriate dose for your situation.
Product labels often include a list of compatible tank-mixture partners. Can a user mix the product with one which is not on the label?
Yes, a user can apply any convenience tank mix so long as the Approval does not preclude mixing with any other products or specific products.
However, you must not mix anticholinesterase pesticides unless this is specifically allowed by the Approval/label of at least one of the products concerned.
Can I use an adjuvant that is not recommended on the label?
The label may have a recommendation for a specific adjuvant but you can use a different adjuvant provided it is on the list of authorised adjuvants and the conditions of use of both the pesticide product and the adjuvant can be complied with. If an adjuvant is not mentioned on the label then seek professional advice as the effectiveness and crop safety of the product may be affected.
I wish to use a product against a particular target pest that does not appear on the label. Is this acceptable?
The identity of the target pest is not part of the conditions of use specifically stated on the Notice of Approval. There is therefore no reason why an approved product cannot be used against a pest, disease or weed which is not stated on the label, providing that all the conditions of use and any other specific directions on the label or within the Notice of Approval are complied with (e.g. maximum dose, crop, timing etc).
Can I use a product on a crop not specified on the label?
Not in most cases. But it is possible that a manufacturer has an Approval for use on a crop that isn't shown on the label. Check with PSD or the manufacturer. If treatment of the crop in question is not approved then the product can only be used if covered by a specific Off-Label Approval.
Following crops/cultivations can be specified on the label. Can I use a product in a following crop / cultivation situation that is not specified?
Yes, unless a particular following crop/situation is specifically prohibited on the product label.
By changing products containing the same active substance can I apply more than the maximum dose specified for any one product?
Such practice is strongly discouraged. It could be seen as going against the legal requirement to take all reasonable precautions when using pesticides to protect people, animals and the environment. It is also possible that the repeated use of similar products could lead to the permitted maximum residues levels in the treated crop being exceeded.
If the label of a product says to apply 2 litres of product per hectare in 200 litres of water can I split the dose and apply 1 litre of product per hectare on two separate occasions, in 100 litres of water?
This depends upon the recommendations on the individual product label. Some labels will make split dose recommendations. If a split dose is specified on the Notice of Approval then you must not deviate from applying as a split dose. Where a product label states that more than one dose should not be applied to a crop, e.g. as is the case for ACCase and ALS inhibitors then split doses are not permitted (see regulatory update 16/2006 for details)
Other labels may refer to a maximum individual dose or a maximum total dose. The maximum individual dose must not be exceeded, but may be reduced. If the label refers to a maximum total dose you can split that dose into as many applications as you want so long as you do not exceed the maximum total dose, and the treatment are within the timings allowed. You should also take into account any interval between treatments specified on the label as these may also be a specified on the Notice of Approval.
Some labels carry a minimum growth stage recommendation. Can the product be used at an earlier growth stage?
Yes. The minimum growth stage recommended on the label relates to crop safety. If you want to use the product at an earlier growth stage seek professional advice as the effectiveness and crop safety may be affected.