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Pesticide scheme is on course to meet targets.

Byline: Karen Dent

THE organisation set up by the agricultural industry and the Government to minimise the environmental effects of pesticides says it is on course to meet its aims, despite missing a number of expected targets.

The Voluntary Initiative (VI) fell just short of the 1.6 million hectares expected to be covered by Crop Protection Management Plans (CPMPs), but its annual report said that the NFU is receiving an increasing number of plans -even though they are no longer an option for new Entry Level Stewardship schemes.

The report also noted a slight increase in membership of the National Register of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO) to more than 20,000, despite an expected decline as businesses rationalised spraying operations. It blamed missing its target of 85% in The National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS) -which now covers 84.3% of the sprayed area -on a change in the way the sprayed area is calculated.

The VI has published the Making a Difference booklet to explain its work to a wider audience.

VI manager Patrick Goldsworthy said: "It's important that the many successes of the VI are more widely recognised. "The VI is a model for how to deliver effective low cost targeted solutions by industry working together with Government and stakeholders."

It has also put together the Voluntary Initiative Community Interest Company (VI-CIC) so it can access more funding sources.

Professor Barry Dent, chairman of the VI Steering Group, said: "After eight years of hard work I am pleased that farmers and the crop protection industry remain as committed as ever to the Voluntary Initiative.

"The industry faces new challenges with the implementation of both the Water Framework and the Sustainable Use Directives.

"However, the UK is well placed to meet these challenges and I hope, as a result of the VI's work, the cost burden and extra red tape for farmers will be minimised."

Meanwhile, the group is urging farmers who still have old products containing the herbicide isoproturon (IPU) to organise proper disposal - and not use it under any circumstances.

UK approval for all products containing IPU was revoked by ministers in March 2007 and farmers had until June 30 this year to use or dispose of their remaining stocks. It is now illegal to use or store IPU.

Mr Goldsworthy said: "Water quality monitoring is increasing and both regulators and water companies will be monitoring for IPU.

"Minute quantities of pesticides can be detected and so if any IPU is used, even in very small quantities, it will quickly be detected.

"This will undermine confidence in the industry's ability to comply with regulation let alone deliver voluntary measures. In addition, if the farmer is identified this could mean loss of single farm payments and enforcement action."


EFFECTIVE The Voluntary Inititiative to minimise the impact of pesticides is going well.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 20, 2009
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