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Stackyard News Sep 06

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Crop sprayers achieve success with voluntary protection targets

The annual report of the Voluntary Initiative steering group published today highlights the successes from its first five years.


crop spraying

Since its launch the VI has seen £45.75m invested by farmers and the crop protection industry in over 40 projects to improve pesticide use and protect the environment.

Latest data collated by the NFU has shown a dramatic upturn in the area covered by Crop Protection Management Plans, as the Entry Level Scheme has been taken up. At least 2.4m ha - double the 2006 VI target - will now be covered by CPMPs.

The report highlights other successes including:

  • Most of the final five year targets under the VI have been met or exceeded.

  • By March 31 2006, more than 76 per cent of the sprayed area in the UK was treated with machines tested under the National Sprayer Testing Scheme.

  • Membership of the National Register of Sprayer Operators is covers more than 80 per cent of the UK arable area.

  • Environment Agency data shows a continuing reduction of pesticide levels in surface water with a 19 per cent fall in 2004.

VI chairman Professor Barry Dent OBE said: “After five years it is now good to see the VI moving beyond being a tax prevention package to be a guide on good practice that helps protect the environment and farmers’ incomes.

“We’re delighted to have met most of the targets agreed at the beginning of this five year process and to have met or exceeded all of the operational targets by March this year.

“Government has now agreed the VI should continue on a two-year rolling basis allowing us to build on the major schemes we’ve already set up. The VI will evolve into a dynamic and progressive programme of measures which works to help farmers and government deliver a sustainable countryside.”

1. The Voluntary Initiative is a programme of measures, agreed by Government, to minimise the environmental impacts of pesticides.

2. Surface Water quality: The Environment Agency compared the 2003 data with the previous five years and showed an 18 per cent reduction in pesticide exceedences. The same exercise for 2004 showed a 19 per cent reduction.

3. The sponsors of the VI are the National Farmers Union, NFU Scotland, the Country Land and Business Association, the Ulster Farmers Union, the Crop Protection Association, the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, the Agricultural Engineers Association and the Agricultural Industries Confederation.

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