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Evaluation of the Performance of the Voluntary Initiative for Pesticide - PS2009

The Voluntary Initiative for Pesticides (VI) was introduced by industry, led by the Crop Protection Association (CPA) proposing measures to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides. The programme included a number of proposals covering best practice measures and schemes to which farmers were encouraged to join. As the programme completes its fifth year 2006, an evaluation of the effects of the VI is required to evaluate the extent to which (arable) farming has seen an improvement in best practice, leading to a reduced environmental impact due to pesticides. An important consideration should be the evaluation of whether changes in farming practice have all been beneficial in terms of environmental impact and also what have been the financial implications to the farmers in adopting such schemes. Changes to farming practice are also likely to have occurred through other drivers, including economic forces, CAP reform, cross-compliance, Environmental Stewardship etc. extending beyond, or in some cases, complementing the remit of the VI.

In February 2001 the CPA published a number of proposals which they claimed would “address the key objectives identified by the Government and also fulfil the overall strategic targets”. The CPA package had three key pillars upon which all other measures were to be built.

· Conducting a comprehensive survey of current practices and equipment used when applying agricultural pesticides to identify potential areas for improvement.
· The adoption of Crop Protection Management Plans, and
· The appointment of a Biodiversity Officer for the crop protection industry.

As part of these three pillars 24 other proposals were published in the same document. A number of targets were later published which would provide the CPA with a guide as to the success of the VI.

This project will scrutinise each of the 18 targets and indicators which the CPA have published (29/03/2004) which cover the following three key areas.

A. Protecting water
B. Benefiting diversity
C. Changing behaviour

These indicators include a range of high profile measures such as

· Crop Protection Management Plans (CPMP)
· National Register of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO)
· National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS)

Each of the targets and indicators will be evaluated to determine the benefit to the environment achieved as a result of the change to farming practice. This evaluation would look at both the potential benefit, assuming the proposed targets were met, and the extent to which these targets have been met by farmers, and the attitude of the farmers to each of the targets. This would allow a further degree of scrutiny to judge whether farmers actually think the targets are useful, and any positive or negative feedback concerning the costs or impracticability of any particular targets. Farmer satisfaction with the individual CPA targets will provide an insight into how likely the farmers are to always follow the procedures.

This project will therefore use existing data, expert judgement, modelling and limited postal farm surveys to provide a detailed examination of the VI, and the likely success of the VI in terms of its major objective, to reduce the environmental impact of pesticides.
1. Evaluate the potential reduction in environmental impact of pesticides likely to be achieved by each of the proposals, as measured by the indicators and their associated targets.

2. Using CPA data, determine the success of the VI in terms of uptake by farmers, and determine the impact on the pesticide users

3. Prioritise the indicators and associated targets based on Objective 1, to identify those that have had the greatest influence on reducing environmental impact. Assess the value of the chosen indicators to determine environmental benefit. Identify areas which have not been covered by the VI and how these gaps should be addressed.

4. Determine whether changes to farming practice have been encouraged by the VI, and the extent to which other external forces (economic, agronomic) have played a role in the changes which have been recorded (e.g. in the CSL farm surveys).
Project Documents
• Final Report : Evaluation of the Performance of the Voluntary Initiative for Pesticide   (260k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2006

Cost: £37,857
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Action Plan for Farmers (APFF)              
Arable Farming              
Behaviour change              
Environmental monitoring              
Environmental Protection              
Monitoring and evaluation              
Operator Safety              
Pesticide use              
Sustainable Production              
Water quality monitoring              
Fields of Study
Pesticide Safety