Safety distance in spr...
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Safety distance in spreading

When pesticides are used there is always a risk of the product being spread further in the environment outside the intended area. In the worst case this can also cause effects on plants and animals that are not intended to be controlled.

Anyone using pesticides is obliged to determine and maintain suitable distances to protect the surroundings outside the target area. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has drawn up general guidelines (97:3) and regulations (SNFS 1997:2) on the spreading of chemical pesticides.

Use the Helper

Two "helpers" can be used to determine a suitable safety distance. These helpers have been developed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and are issued by the information and training campaign ”Greppa växtskyddet” ("Focus on Plant Protection")

In the tables contained in the helpers it is possible to obtain a measure of the minimum distance to be kept from the field boundary or from sensitive areas, for example adjoining watercourses. Knowledge of air temperature, wind speed and sprayer setting is needed to use the helpers.

Helper in use of agricultural sprayer with boom

The helper can be used for all types of pesticides spread using an agricultural sprayer with a boom. For some pesticides there is an additional condition in the authorisation that the product labelling must make it clear that the assistant is to be used. The helper exists both as a brochure in pocket format and as a pdf.

Helper in use of fan sprayer

The helper can be used for all types of pesticides spread using a fan sprayer. Fan sprayers are often used in fruit cultivation. The helper exists as a pdf.

Download the Helper.

Other countries are interested in the Swedish model

Fixed safety distances are the conditions that dominate in other countries. Several countries have, however, shown considerable interest in the Swedish method, which takes greater account of actual field conditions.

Reduction in surface runoff

To reduce the risk to aquatic organisms due to surface runoff to surface water, it may be appropriate to introduce a permanent grassed protection zone. In December 2010 KemI took a decision to introduce requirements that such a buffer zone of 10 m in width must be kept for the product Proline EC 250 (registration number 4688) in certain use situations. See authorisation of Proline EC 250.

There may be cases where products require broader or narrower buffer zones to reduce the calculated risk to an acceptable level. The aim is to protect the aquatic environment.

Location and maintenance

The buffer zone must be permanently covered in vegetation and be created one year before the treatment. The buffer zone must consist of grass or grass in a mixture with herbs.

The lower edge of the grassed buffer zone must be at the upper edge of the riverbank. For specific maintenance requirements we refer to the maintenance instructions for permanent buffer zones in environmental support programmes of the Swedish Board of Agriculture (environmental payment for buffer zones).

The phrasing of the condition may be changed and is to be regarded as a first step towards being able to manage the risk of pesticide transport through runoff in Sweden.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency, together with the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, among others, will work on the further development of risk management measures for products where runoff may lead to a risk to aquatic organisms. The system of permanent grassed zones is also applied in Germany and France.

Read more about conditions for the environmental payment for protection zones.

Documenting safety distances

All farmers are obliged to keep spraying records and document what safety distances have been kept from the surroundings in the spreading of chemical pesticides belonging to Class 1 or 2 in accordance with SNFS 1997:2.


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Other websites

Greppa växtskyddet

Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF)

Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Swedish Board of Agriculture