The Voluntary Initiative and the NFU release new IPM Plan

The Voluntary Initiative and the NFU have worked together to produce an improved version of their arable-focussed IPM Plan.

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An effective IPM strategy is vital for any arable business, and building a plan for the cropping year is a valuable decision-making tool. The Voluntary Initiative (VI) IPM plans are the most widely used in the industry, with over 17,000 plans completed since 2021. Three sector specific plans are available, for predominantly arable, grassland and horticulture businesses.

The VI and the NFU have worked together to create an updated and improved version of the VI arable IPM plan, which is more user friendly, has a stronger planning function and provides tailored, practical advice for improving your IPM strategy.

Incorporating user feedback gathered over the last 3 years, the new arable IPM Plan is formed of two sections; a ‘Survey’ section encourages the user to identify key factors when making decisions about rotations, crop type and variety and IPM actions, while the second, ‘Plan’ section provides a template where the user can map out specific current and future actions to prevent and control pests, weeds and diseases in their crops.

Phil Jarvis, Chairman of the VI says: “The latest version of the IPM plan evaluates how growers currently implement IPM and then allows them to plan their next steps. It meets the SFI IPM Action 1 standard and that will bring a small financial benefit to farmers. However, adopting IPM principles is not just about improving the on-farm environment. The IPM approach shows there are numerous ways to improve financial efficiency when growing food on UK farms. The new plan ‘hits the mark’, allowing all growers to complete the plan either without assistance or alongside their BASIS accredited agronomist, helping shape IPM ideas for the future.”

The improvements have focussed on 3 areas; usability, user value and feedback quality.

  • Usability – the online tool has become much more user friendly, with clearer questions that are more straightforward to answer.
  • User value –questions have been divided into two sections, ‘Survey’ and ‘Plan’. The survey section asks the user about their understanding of IPM, and the process by which they make their IPM decisions. This valuable data is combined with that of other users, anonymised and used in lobbying, policy development and understanding the challenges facing IPM. The plan section allows users to detail what actions they are already taking and which they plan to adopt this coming year. This will be a clearer way for users to identify actions they plan to take on specific crops.
  • Feedback quality – the feedback provided has been changed, to provide tailored, practical and easily digestible pieces of agronomic advice. The advice is accessible enough to not require interpretation with an agronomist, and aims to provide ideas of further actions that could be considered.


The plans are freely available to all in the industry and can be found on the VI website.

NFU Senior Plant Health Officer Alison Warrington says: “IPM lies at the core of arable farming and is critical for ensuring effective control of crop pests, boosting productivity and improving the environmental impact of food production. Having a plan in place across the rotation, that is based on science and evidence, combined with previous experience and knowledge of your land is the best way to make sure that you are getting the most out of integrated pest management.

“This new arable plan, developed by the VI alongside the NFU, builds on what was already an industry-leading resource, to provide an easy-to-use tool that allows you to consider what actions you already take on farm, what works, what doesn’t work and what additional actions you can adopt to further improve your IPM strategy.”

Completing the plan with a BASIS qualified adviser can satisfy the criteria of the SFI IPM paid actions (Action 1 – IPM1) as well as a number of assurance and retailer schemes. New, improved versions of the remaining two sector-specific plans, grassland and horticulture, will be released over the coming months.