VI – celebrating 21 years of promoting responsible use of PPPs

30 December 2022

An image of a sprayer in a field of growing potatoes

November 2022 marked the 21st year of the VI (Voluntary Initiative). We take a look at the work of the VI, what it has achieved and where its work will go in the future. 

The VI (Voluntary Initiative) was created in 2001 in response to government’s proposed introduction of a pesticide tax. It is an industry led programme that promotes the responsible use of PPPs (plant protection products) for sustainable agriculture through various schemes, tools and messaging.

NFU involvement

The NFU was a key stakeholder in the development of the VI and continues to support it, along with several other cross-industry bodies. For more information, visit: VI-CIC | Voluntary Initiative 

We also collaborate with the VI on communications and delivery of best practice IPM (integrated pest management). 

Achievements over the years

In its first ten years of operation, the VI established the NRoSO (National Register of Sprayer Operators), the NSTS (National Sprayer Testing Scheme), the CPMPs (Crop Protection Management Plans) and BETA training course for advisers.

This work all promoted responsible PPP use with focuses on water, biodiversity, communication and collaboration.

Between 2001 and 2011 around 30,000 farmers, farm managers and spray operators participated in the VI’s spray operator training scheme and 2,500 advisers held the recognised BASIS qualification - undertakings which were all voluntary.

“The VI has played a key role in delivering against commitments of the 2013 National Action Plan for sustainable use of pesticides those commitments. This is set to increase in 2023 when a new national action plan is published”.

NFU senior regulatory adviser Dr Chris Hartfield

In the past ten years, the VI has continued work on sprayer testing and NRoSO qualifications, while CPMPs have been evolved into IPM plans. NSTS tests in excess of 16,000 pieces of spray equipment each year.

The VI is a regular attendee at trade shows like Cereals, Lamma and CropTec, providing the opportunity to complete CPD for sprayer operators and promoting responsible use of pesticides.

An IPM Q&A was held at CropTec 2022 to celebrate the VI’s 21st birthday.

An advocate for the industry

NFU Environment Forum chair and VI chair Phil Jarvis said: “Over 21 years the VI has advocated partnership and collaborations, overseen operator professional development and played its part in delivering elements of the National Action Plan (Sustainable Use Directive).

“The IPM plans, sprayer testing and spray operator training, show a responsible use of plant protections products from the agricultural industry.

“More recently, the VI has found flexible ways to help operators during the pandemic and looks forwards to a BASIS developing the NRoSO scheme. We’re also looking forward to government support and interaction for the next 21 years.”

An integral part of national action

NFU senior regulatory advisor Dr Chris Hartfield said: “UK farmer and grower’s commitment and work to meet the requirements of the current 2013 National Action Plan for sustainable use of pesticides focuses heavily on reducing risks by professionalising the use of pesticides.

“The VI and schemes that operate under its umbrella, have played a key role in delivering against those commitments. This is set to continue and increasingly so in 2023, when a new national action plan is published”.

Looking forward, the VI will continue to champion the responsible use of PPPs. In collaboration with the NFU, IPM plans will continue to be improved.

Remember, please complete your IPM plan for this year. Plans can be found at: Integrated Pest Management and the VI IPM Plans | Voluntary Initiative

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