The VI at 21

Formed in 2001, the VI celebrates its 21 birthday. The VI encompasses a programme of measures that are designed to reduce the impact of plant protection products on the environment.

The Voluntary Initiative (VI) was set up in 2001 in response to the suggested introduction of a pesticide tax. The VI encompasses a programme of measures that are designed to reduce the impact of plant protection products on the environment and maintain the delicate balance between gaining high production output from land while nurturing and safeguarding the environment. From the beginning, some key areas were identified such as sprayer testing, operator training, adviser training & qualification. Adoption of best practice in the management, storage and use of plant protection products (PPP’s) heightened the level of professionalism leading to a clear level of accountability from the farming industry.


After 10 years, the Voluntary Initiative had continued a rolling programme of work promoting responsible PPP use concentrating on water and biodiversity, communication and collaboration. The National Register of Sprayer Operators (NRoSO); The National Sprayer Testing Scheme (NSTS); The Crop Protection Management Plans (CPMPs); and BETA training course for advisers formed the foundation of the VI’s work.



On reaching 21 in 2022, the VI continues as an industry led programme, promoting the responsible use of PPP’s through an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) based approach. Sprayer testing, NRoSO and IPM Plans still remain as the VI’s key schemes and BASIS advisor training grows from strength to strength. Water, wildlife and soil protection are important themes for annual operator training events. The VI is ever present at Cereals, LAMMA and CropTec shows, promoting continued professional development for our frontline sprayer operators.

FSOOTY Judging

Visiting and judging one of the Farm Sprayer Of The Year (FSOOTY) finalists to hear how they safely store and handle plant protection products in their chemical store.


The VI continues to be overseen by the industry’s ‘community interest company’ with eight Director organisations from across the sector and the wider ‘strategy group’ which formalises targets, actions and campaigns. With the ability to facilitate industry, government, and other rural stakeholders the VI continues to champion the responsible use of PPP’s, showing commitment to responsible food production and environmental protection.

VI Water Group

The VI "Water Group" visiting Anglian Water's Hall Water Treatment Plant in Lincolnshire. 


To celebrate our 21st birthday, the VI will be holding an IPM Questions and Answer session at CropTec 2022 at 15.00 on Wednesday 23rd November.  Anyone is welcome to join us.  We will also be holding other seminars and events during winter 2022 and into spring 2023.