The purpose of establishing buffer zones is to protect water quality and other sensitive areas. The quality of water resources is affected by pollution from various sources, including pollution from agricultural sources, in particular nitrates and plant protection products.
Therefore, one of the measures to protect water quality is to prohibit the use of natural and mineral fertilisers, as well as plant protection products, on agricultural land within legal distances from the banks of watercourses and water bodies.
The protection of all sensitive areas (bodies and watercourses, apiaries or public roads) requires the use of plant protection products at an appropriate distance from them. The safe distance, referred to as the buffer zone, is established for each active substance during the environmental risk assessment at the time of registration of the protection product. The buffer zone is an area of defined width separating the site of application of the plant protection product from sensitive areas. In sensitive areas and in adjacent buffer zones the use of plant protection products shall be prohibited.
The buffer zones are described in detail in the Regulation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of 31.05.2014, on the conditions of use of plant protection products (Journal of Laws 2014, item 516): isap.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/DocDetails.xsp?id=WDU20140000516 in words:
“§ 2. 1. Plant protection products, subject to § 5, shall be applied in the open using:
- ground equipment at a distance of at least 20 m from apiaries,
- tractor and self-propelled field or orchard sprayers at a distance of at least 3 m from the edge of the carriageway of public roads, excluding public roads classified as municipal and district roads,
- tractor sprayers and self-propelled orchard sprayers at a distance of at least 3 m from bodies of water and watercourses and areas not used for agricultural purposes other than for the purpose of treatment with plant protection products,
- tractor and self-propelled field sprayers at a distance of at least 1 m from bodies of water and watercourses and areas not used for agriculture, other than for the purpose of treatment with plant protection products.
§ 5. plant protection products for which an authorisation for placing on the market was issued before 14 June 2011 and whose label does not specify the minimum distance at which they may be used from bodies and watercourses may be used in the open field with tractor and self-propelled field or orchard sprayers if the place of application is at least 20 m from bodies and watercourses.”
Plant protection product labels specify product-specific minimum application distances from watercourses, springs and bodies of water.
Buffer zones may also include 10 m strips with riparian vegetation occurring along the watercourse. No field production may take place in buffer zones, grazing and mowing are possible, provided that the zone can be distinguished from adjacent agricultural land. The labels of plant protection products specify minimum distances for their use from watercourses, springs and bodies of water.
Buffer zones including, but not limited to, buffer strips of not less than 1 m in width, located on, or adjacent to, arable land so that their longer edges are parallel to the edge of the watercourse, are classified as ecological focus areas.
Ways to reduce drift are particularly important in orchard treatments, as described on the website: Drift prevention – a guide
You can also improve the safety of your sprayer by following the instructions of the application: EOS v0.1 (topps-eos.org) .