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National Spreader Testing Scheme launched

Last updated: 29 Sep 2015

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The Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA), in association with Tried & Tested, has launched a nationwide fertiliser spreader testing protocol to ensure all spreaders - disc, boom and pendulum - are tested to the same exacting standard.

Called the National Spreader Testing Scheme, it sits alongside the AEA's proven National Sprayer Testing Scheme, and takes on board economic, environmental and compliance issues to deliver a national standard for fertiliser spreader tests.

According to Defras fertiliser manual (RB209), fertiliser spreaders should be regularly maintained and serviced, replacing worn out parts as necessary. To check spreading uniformity, trays should be used to allow a coefficient of variation across the spreading pattern to be determined.

"By developing a universal spreader test, which should be carried out at least oncea year when applying recommended fertiliser rates to crops, this new NSTS scheme can ensure that best practice is being observed," explains NSTS manager Duncan Russell. "You won't know if your spreading is wrong, unless you have your spreader tray tested."

Supported nationally by fertiliser spreader manufacturers, and part-funded by Tried & Tested, this industry initiative has been created to promote more efficient use of fertilisers and help growers to achieve better yields. In addition, further benefits of annual testing includes meeting cross compliance and NVZ regulations, and ultimately delivering peace of mind that fertiliser application is correct.

"This new NSTS scheme is very much welcomed by the farming bodies and AIC's fertiliser suppliers. Tried & Tested will be supporting the AEA in promoting the cheme to farmers and growers", adds Jane Salter, Head of Environment Policy, AIC.

AEA spreader tests manager, Ian Forman, says the NSTS.org.uk website will carry a list of approved spreader examiners, which will be constantly updated as the scheme evolves, in preparation for fertiliser applications in Spring 2016. "We expect that many NSTS-approved sprayer examiners will adopt the spreader test", he says. "But to be an approved spreader examiner, candidates will need to gain City & Guilds accreditation for fertiliser spreader examination".