VI chairman warns industry over pesticides complacency

THE newly-appointed chairman of the Voluntary Initiative has warned against industry complacency over mitigating the effects of pesticide application.

Speaking in Edinburgh on his first visit to Scotland as head of the VI – set up a decade ago as an alternative to a pesticide tax being imposed on the farming industry – Richard Butler said that while the initiative might be seen as a success with more than 20,000 spray operators having undergone training, there were new challenges coming along.

The European Union water framework directive is increasing the attention on catchment areas for rivers and streams by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in Scotland and its counterpart in England.

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While many of the problems in water courses were linked to diffuse pollution and not to chemical contamination, farmers would have to be much more alert to contamination issues.

“We have precious few chemicals to use and we have to protect the ones we have, said NFU Scotland vice-president, John Picken. “If we lose the permission to use any it reduces our range of options and that increases the chance of resistance being built up.”

Due to a UK-wide approach to chemical pollution under the chemical regulatory directorate, pesticides may be removed just because they have caused a problem in one part of the country.

Concern surrounds the use of a slug killer used in oilseed rape crops, metaldehyde. Traces of this are found in many watercourses in England.