The introduction of the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD) has created many questions for farmers and Teagasc staff over recent months. Many of the questions are answered below and simply any farmer that uses spray or sprayer is affected.

If you are a farmer and apply professional use plant protection products (weed killers, fungicides, insecticides); then the SUD applies to you.

  • If I spray grassland, arable crops etc with a sprayer – You need to Register
  • If I spot-spray with a knapsack or lance – You need to Register
  • If I get a contractor to do all my spraying – You don’t need to Register but the contractor must be registered.

A farmer can buy pesticides after November 26, 2015 but cannot apply the spray with their own sprayer unless they have completed the following:

  • Registered with the DAFM (See below) as a professional user; and
  • Have completed the Pesticide Application module as part of a Teagasc (FETAC level 5 or 6) course will meet the requirements for professional user training (or equivalent).

What is the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD)?

The SUD is a new EU directive governing all aspects of pesticide use. It is being implemented in Ireland by the DAFM to include: herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, seed dressings, certain rodenticides etc.

What is the purpose of the SUD?

The overall aims of the SUD are:

  • Reduce the risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment
  • Promote the use of integrated pest management (IPM) and of alternative approaches or techniques to pesticides

What is IPM?

IPM is essentially good, sound farming practises such as growing competitive, healthy crops, choosing the correct variety, applying pesticides to get the most from them, practising a good rotation, etc. See more examples under number 10 (below).

Who will the SUD affect?

The SUD will affect the following:

  • Pesticide Advisors (Teagasc/ACA)
  • Pesticide Distributors (Merchants, Anybody selling chemical/pesticides)
  • Professional users of pesticides (farmers, contractors, sprayer operators, spraying companies)
  • Inspectors of sprayer equipment

What is a Professional User of Pesticides?

A professional user is any person who uses pesticides such as anybody using a sprayer (farmers, contractors, operators, technicians, employers and self-employed people), both in the farming and other sectors.

All professional users must be registered by November 26, 2015.

From this date, only a registered professional user can apply pesticides authorised for professional use.

How does a Professional User Register?

There will be an online registration facility available for professional users on the PCS website but you can only register if you are fully trained – see below.

How do you become a Trained Professional User?

If you have already completed any of the courses listed below, you can register straight away on under the Sustainable Use Directive (SUD):

  • Teagasc Pesticide Application course (as part of 1 or 2-year qualification)
  • Teagasc Pesticide Application stand-alone short course
  • FETAC 5N1797 – Boom Sprayer
  • City & Guilds PA1 + PA2a – Boom Sprayer
  • FETAC 5N0731 – Handheld Sprayer
  • City & Guilds PA1 + PA6 – Handheld Sprayer

If you have not completed any of the courses listed above, identify a pesticide user training provider and enrol for the appropriate training course.

Are there any exemptions from the requirement to register as a Professional User?


Can an individual who is not registered as a Professional User buy pesticides authorised for professional use?

  1. Individuals who are not registered as a professional user can buy pesticides authorised for professional use but these pesticides must be applied by a registered professional user or a person operating under the direct supervision of a registered professional user.
  2. There is a requirement to keep appropriate records with details of the registered professional user who applied the pesticides.
  3. Note: When purchasing pesticides for professional use, retailers will request the Herd No/Flock No. or Professional User No. of the purchaser (when available) from January 1, 2014. This record must be kept by the retailer for five years and made available to an authorised DAFM person upon request.

What must I do as a Professional User?

  • Register with the DAFM as per point 5 (above)
  • Farm using the general principles of integrated pest management
  • Maintain records demonstrating application of these principles
  • More information on this will be provided at a later date

By what date must Pesticide Application Equipment be inspected?

  • All boom sprayers greater than 3m and all blast and orchard sprayers must be tested at least once by 26th November 2016.
  • The interval between inspections must not exceed 5 years until 2020 and must not exceed 3 years thereafter.

When must other Pesticide Application Equipment (e.g. boom sprayers less than 3m, weed wipers, etc.) be inspected?

The Department will determine appropriate timetables and inspection intervals for other types of pesticide application equipment and it is anticipated that all types of application equipment, with the exception of knapsack sprayers, will be required to be tested at least once before 2020.

What checks should a Professional User complete on their Pesticide Application Equipment?

Professional users should conduct regular calibrations and technical checks of their sprayers.

How much will it cost to have Pesticide Application Equipment inspected?

The cost of inspection is agreed between the Inspector and the owner of the equipment.

What are ‘No Spray Zones’?

These are areas where pesticides cannot be applied as part of the SUD.

a. Safeguard zones

  • These are around water abstraction points, e.g., shallow wells, boreholes; river points etc. and are non-negotiable.
  • These are not identified on pesticide labels and are the same as no spread zones required under the Nitrates regulations.

Safeguard zones around water abstraction points (including wells) servicing the following numbers of people:

  • 200m – 500 people
  • 100m – 50-500 people
  • 25m – 10-50 people
  • 5m – 10 or less people
  • 15m Landscape feature (karst area, sink hole or collapse feature)

For example if there is a well on your land that is used for a group water supply for 50-500 people, then no pesticide can be applied within 100m of the well.

b. Buffer Zones

Buffer zones can be either areas adjacent to water (mainly), or hedgerows which cannot receive direct application of pesticides. These are identified on the product labels and are typically 5-10m in width but may extend to 70m.

The DAFM have developed the scheme STRIPE whereby those who have and use drift reducing nozzles (conforming to DAFM specification), and apply lower application rates, will be allowed to reduce the extent of the buffer imposed (most could be reduced to 1m). This is available from

“Ensure to meet the requirements of the SUD if spraying in the future”.

By Sinead Devaney, Teagasc Adviser, Galway/Clare Regional Unit and Tim Hyde, Environment Specialist, Teagasc, Athenry.