The Voluntary Initiative launches ‘VI Champions’ to help drive industry change

The Voluntary Initiative has introduced a network of 20 regional ‘VI Champion’ farmers across the UK to promote best practice in pesticide use through enhanced adoption of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

The organisation, which works with key stakeholders across the agricultural and water industry, aims to minimise the environmental impact of pesticide use and related farming practices on water and biodiversity. In a recent poll* commissioned by The Voluntary Initiative, 92 per cent of farmers currently adopt an IPM approach, however over half (52 per cent) said the biggest challenge with IPM was the inherent risk to their cropping practices and 32 per cent acknowledged they didn’t know enough about IPM.

Dr. Neal Evans, The Voluntary Initiative Operations Director, said: “We want to encourage adoption of enhanced IPM principles and ensure the uptake of a holistic approach to crop protection through integration of quantifiable IPM measures.

“From our recent IPM survey, 22 per cent of farmers said they receive too much information from too many organisations, therefore the aim of the IPM Champions network is to be a support mechanism for farmers while demonstrating continued industry leadership.”

The new network aims to support growers by simplifying the delivery of information through integration of messaging between initiatives and across relevant organisations. The Voluntary Initiative’s ‘IPM Champions’ will be working closely with water companies and farmers to reduce the risk to the aquatic environment and to help farmers achieve the aims of the 25-year Environmental Plan.

Recently appointed IPM champion Sarah Petit also commented: “Farmers are constantly having to adapt to fewer pesticides being available, increasing resistance and a lack of suitable alternatives. Our mission as VI IPM Champions is to talk about how to minimise the environmental impact of pesticide use and related farming practices on water and biodiversity but maximise the opportunities for the development of UK agriculture post-Brexit.”.

To find out more about the VI ‘IPM Champions’ or to discover who your IPM Champion is in your region, visit: https://voluntaryinitiative.org.uk/schemes/vi-champions/

 

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.