SKL (Foundation for Quality Control of Agricultural Equipment) in Wageningen (the Netherlands) is an independent inspection organization. The objective of the foundation is the improvement of the working quality of machines and installations used in agriculture and horticulture. SKL will achieve this by organizing periodical inspections of equipment by SKL-certified testing stations. These testing stations can either be in the Netherlands or abroad.
History of the inspection of sprayers in the Netherlands
In the middle of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties several initiatives were exposed for testing field crop sprayers in the Netherlands. These initiatives came from collectors from agricultural products, suppliers of chemicals, dealers of sprayers and the extension service from the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture. The objective of these inspections were improving the distribution of the chemicals over the crops and a decrease of spillages caused by a bad distribution and leakages, this should lead to advantages for the farmer (saving on costs of chemicals and better crop quality), the environment (less input of chemicals and less point-pollutions) and the consumers (saver food).
In 1988 the Foundation for Quality Control of Agricultural Machinery (SKL) was founded with the purpose to develop one uniform standard for testing the equipment. In that year the first official testing stations were created and the first inspectors were certified. From that time the inspections were on a voluntary basis but stimulated by collectors from agricultural products like potato collecting companies and buyers from vegetables. The motivation to stimulate the testing was to have good quality crops and less pollutive production. During this period nearly 10% – 20% of all farmers participate in the inspection scheme.
In 1991 an agreement was made between the Dutch government and the agricultural sector to decrease the use of pesticides in the agricultural sector. One of the elements of this agreement was the introduction of a mandatory inspection of spraying equipment. In 1997 this was made effective by rules of the Product Boards for Agriculture and Horticulture that all field crop sprayers has to inspected every two years by an official SKL certified testing station. In 2002 the obligation for testing air-assisted sprayers for orchards was introduced. In 2006 the frequency of testing is changed from every two years to every three years.
In 2012 the regulations of the Productboard are adapted to the content of the article 8 of the EU directive for a Sustainable Use of Pesticides. Next to the fieldcrop and air-assisisted sprayers, also other types of sprayers were brought into the mandatory inspection scheme.
On January 1, 2015 the ministry of Economic Affairs has integrated the obligation to inspect sprayers in use in their legislation.