It is likely that farms will be checked for the presence of pollinator insects, as part of the Government’s full implementation of the EU’s Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) for pesticides.
According to the Department of Agriculture (DAFM), “It is envisaged that, once available, the farm Pollinator Index currently being developed by the All Ireland Pollinator group could be considered as an additional measurement tool for the implementation of IPM, which could be verified at inspection.”
The pollinator plan is revealed in the DAFM response to EU recommendations on how Ireland should fully implement EU pesticide rules.
The recommendations followed EU inspectors visiting Ireland last January and February, to evaluate compliance with the EU’s Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) for pesticides.
The inspectors complained that action plans implemented in Ireland up to 2018 did not establish quantitative targets for the reduction of risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment, nor monitoring of pesticides of particular concern.
Among the shortcomings they saw in training and certification of operators were lack of a common certification system and specific register for professional users.
They said this hinders the ability of distributors to ensure that only certified users purchase pesticides.
They said Ireland’s system for collection of empty pesticide packages on farms enabled about 50% of plastic containers to be recovered each year.
But official controls were insufficient for inspection and verification of correct handling, collection and disposal of empty containers.
With regard to the 118 active registered pesticide application equipment inspectors in Ireland, it was noted the DAFM had not established restrictions concerning possible conflicts of interest.
During the audit, examples where such issues might arise were seen, including inspectors who also provide maintenance and repair services, and those who have inspected their own equipment.
The DAFM in its response said its revised action plan, finalised and published in early February, has consolidated sustainable use of pesticides objectives.
In response to specific recommendations by the EU inspectors, the DAFM outlined how it has improved the training of professional pesticide users, and said mandatory inspection of all types of equipment will come into force within a specified timeframe.
The DAFM noted that it is mandatory to complete a risk assessment before using pesticides in non-agricultural or municipal areas, and compliance with this requirement will be checked by official controls officers.
“This will allow more accurate verification to take place at official control level.
According to DAFM figures, 5,082 sprayers have successfully passed an inspection, and 22 failed. However, inspectors said the system for inspection does not cover all types of equipment.
Pesticide usage in Ireland is only one-third of the EU average, according to the Department of Agriculture (DAFM).
Only 0.7 Kg of active substance per hectare is used, compared to an EU average of (2.2Kg/ha.