The Voluntary Initiative has beaten targets to minimise the environmental impact of pesticides, according to the schemes sixth annual report.

Set up in response to the threat of pesticide tax, the industry-led body has manifested itself as not only a defensive measure, but also as a pro-active scheme offering best-practice advice for operators.

Results for 2006/07 indicate machines covering nearly 90% of the UK sprayed area have been tested as part of the National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS), while 85% of the arable area is now covered by members of the National Register of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO).

Crop Protection Management Plans (CPMPs) cover more than 1.6m ha in total

The Voluntary Initiative has shown what can be achieved through voluntary measures, said VI chairman Barry Dent.

“I am pleased the valuable contribution to the National Pesticide Strategy and the implementation of the Water Framework Directive is now being widely recognised.

“The VI is now a mature and effective programme, recognised by ministers and it can continue to secure improvements by working with DEFRA to deliver the voluntary elements of the National Pesticide Strategy,” added Professor Dent.