Voluntary Initiative Chair visits Scotland

Voluntary Initiative Chair visits Scotland

24 September 2021
On a breezy late summer’s day…although some might say an early autumn day, the ‘Voluntary Initiative in Scotland’ Chair, Dave Bell, hosted Phil Jarvis and Sarah Cowie, Policy Manager for NFU Scotland, on his farm near Fife.

The farming wheels were turning rapidly as Maris Piper potatoes turned up, neatly boxed on trailers, to be unloaded into the farm’s temperature-controlled store. With wheat and barley harvest just finished but bales still to gather in for the Suckler cow enterprise, Dave was appreciative of the drier weather and early harvest.


Phil Jarvis and Sarah Cowie  

With the industry facing several challenges, it wasn’t long before rules on water, supply chains, fertiliser and fuel prices were given an airing. Traveling across Dave’s farmstead he showed his  upgraded bunded spray filling area, described his rainwater harvesting plans and as Scottish VI Chair Dave was certainly setting a fine example of best practice. The role of sprayer filling and field applications is a major part of the VI’s work.

Over a cup of coffee, the conversation, with Sarah, turned to the role of the VI within the agricultural sector. Earlier in the week, the Scottish VI had met on-line with a good turnout and some new members to the group, such as GWCT Scotland and NFU Scotland provided the all-important hosting and meeting technical support.                                                                                                               


Dave stressed the importance of consistent messaging into governments from both sides of the border which gave a stronger position for the farming industry. It wasn’t long before the role of Integrated Pest Management was raised and Phil shared thoughts on the new IPM plans, their evolution in the future to help meet both government’s aspirations for food production systems and for the agricultural industry to champion best practice when applying plant protection products. All agreed that IPM plans had to offer value to the industry, whether that means meeting standards for market access or as part of the recording practices that future environmental financial support the industry will receive. It is imperative that the Voluntary Initiative works with Defra and Scottish Government, helping to coordinate the agricultural industry’s role, as many of the solutions to the challenges we face will emerge from this sector. It should also be acknowledged that identifying and addressing regional issues, across the whole of the UK is extremely important. So, the coordination of messaging across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a real strength for the Voluntary Initiative.

The discussion took in the role of agronomists, platforms to widen VI messaging, training and sharing knowledge. On venturing outside again, views on cultivations, pollinators, the essential role of farmyard manure and biodiversity on farmland were all conveyed.

Many thanks to Dave for hosting and sparing the time in a busy period.

Phil Jarvis, VI Chair, September 2021

  Phil Jarvis and Dave Bell



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