VI/NFU IPM Plan for grassland

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Completing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan annually will help ensure that opportunities to improve productivity are not missed and also help meet the market demand to see more sustainable practices and reduced reliance on pesticides. It may also be necessary for compliance with farm assurance schemes.

Numbers completing the previous VI IPM Plan annually had risen to nearly 8,000 businesses, mainly in England and Wales. The structure of that plan meant that collating information to measure the industry’s progress in adopting IPM was impossible. In addition, it did not fully recognise that one key aspect of IPM is the need to evaluate regularly the approaches adopted. So, it has been revised in order that the increasing uptake of IPM can be demonstrated to the industry’s customers and to Government and its agencies.

IPM is a whole farm approach to pest management that maximises productivity whilst minimising negative impacts on the environment ( Individual businesses can take many different but totally appropriate approaches to adopting IPM practices. The VI/NFU IPM Plan provides scores for the different components of IPM so enabling improvements to be measured.

Creissen et al. (2019) outline a validated scoring system, developed and refined by agricultural and social science specialists and field tested throughout the UK and Ireland. This system has statistical validity and has been subjected to peer review. We have adopted it for our VI/NFU IPM Plan and online completion of the form enables automatic collation. In answering individual questions and sub questions, scores are provided for individual farm or grower businesses as well as national scores or scores according to farm size and farming system. It will let individual businesses evaluate their practices and continue to improve and develop IPM planning.

Pesticide use in grassland is dominated by herbicides. Hence the VI/NFU IPM Plan for farm businesses with no other crop than grass only covers Integrated Weed Management (IWM).

The VI/NFU IPM Plan has been designed to be straight-forward and easy to complete. Data collected from individual businesses will not be published or allow businesses to be identified by inference. The VI/NFU IPM Plan is not concerned with, and does not collect data relating to, farm assurance schemes, farm support payments, Cross Compliance activities or Agri-Environment schemes. All data supplied will be treated in the strictest confidence, will be used solely for the purposes of measuring the uptake of IPM by the industry.

The VI would like to thank Henry Creissen and Fiona Burnett of SRUC and Philip Jones of the University of Reading for their help in compiling this Plan. It has been based on “Measuring the unmeasurable? A method to quantify adoption of integrated pest management practices in temperate arable farming systems” by Creissen et al., 2019, Pest Management Science, 75, 3144-3152 with funding from Scottish Government Strategic Research programme, Rural Business Research (England), Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Ireland) and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Northern Ireland). (