Tests and training

This lesson provides:

  • Information on the qualifications to operate pesticide applicators on various types of equipment
  • The requirements to meet legal and assurance scheme obligations
  • The most common NSTS test failure faults
  • Sprayer checks and maintenance tips.

Are you qualified?

The Sustainable Use Regulations legally require any person whose work involves applying professional plant protection products to hold the correct qualifications.

Those working in farming will need to first achieve PA1 – The Principles of Safe Handling and Application of Pesticides. Before you can legally apply products, however, you must also hold the appropriate module for the sprayer or applicator – for example PA2 for self-propelled, trailed and mounted horizontal boom sprayers.

It’s important to note that you will normally need to hold the correct PA module for other applicators used on planters, cultivators and for granular applications.

One module for all

You can now, however, take the PASC Unit 233, which will qualify you to use all of the cultivator/planter-mounted pesticide applicators by taking just one assessment.

Important note: Specific applicators that are assessed for the PASC Unit 233 are not transferable. For example, a candidate assessed using a cultivator/planter mounted in-furrow, powder and granular applicator will be awarded only the PASC Unit 233. This does not cover each separate specific PA unit required for each individual applicator (where applicable).

Applying the rules

Operators must hold the correct qualification for different applicators. Check you are compliant.

Note: PASC Unit 233 qualifies the operator to use all of the cultivator/planter mounted pesticide applicators by undertaking only one assessment.

Take this quick quiz to check you have the right qualifications needed to use the following applicators.

Quick Quiz: Am I qualified?

 Take this quick quiz to check you have the right qualifications needed to use the following applicators.


Testing times

Less than half of all machines pass the NSTS test first time. It’s a poor record that has not improved in the past three years.

NSTS test 2019: Sprayer faults

One, simple to fix, issue is responsible for 60% of all test failures. Take the quiz below to see if you can put the top ten faults the correct order.

Quick Quiz: Know your leaks

Select the faults from the list below and place them in the order where you think they occur in the top ten faults list.


Top ten most common reasons sprayers fail an NSTS test, with the percentage of sprayers with these faults.

Test: DCV Leaks

Failure rate: 24%

Test: Free from leaks – spraying above working pressure

Failure rate: 21%

Test: Filters – clean and good condition

Failure rate: 18%

Test: Free from leaks – static check

Failure rate: 16%

Test: Contents gauge – clear and legible

Failure rate: 13%

Test: Hose condition

Failure rate: 11%

Test: Straight boom

Failure rate: 9%

Test: Induction system free from leaks

Failure rate: 9%

Test: Pressure gauge accuracy

Failure rate: 8%

Test: Free from leaks – not spraying with pump running

Failure rate: 7%

Operator Tip: Sprayers are tested at a minimum of 1 bar above normal working pressure. Increase the pressure on your machine when checking for leaks.

NSTS operator check sheet

NSTS has updated its useful operator check sheet to now include the additional Red Tractor requirement that sprayers must be calibrated every year. You can download it by clicking on the image below so you can refer to it at any time.

You have now covered ‘Qualifications and Testing’ and should move on to the next topic in this lesson. Please click ‘mark complete’ to take you to the next topic, Application Matters.