BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Crop Protection industry rolls-out new scheme for water and biodiversity protection
Building on a growing portfolio of stewardship initiatives to ensure sustainable use of pesticides, the crop protection industry is embarking on a new campaign to promote the implementation of buffer strips between cropped areas and open water bodies to reduce pesticide pollution of water from run-off and promote biodiversity. This scheme aims to see recommendations for the implementation of Vegetative Buffer Strips (VBSs) along the edges of water bodies attached to all relevant product packaging on the European market by the end of 2015
"The VBS scheme is the latest addition to the sustainable agriculture initiatives of ECPA members, and contributes to the overall aim of protecting water from potential negative impacts of pesticide use. This programme is open to any company interested in joining and already has the commitment of key European crop protection companies" - explained Stuart Rutherford, ECPA's Director of Environmental Affairs.
The VBS scheme will be initiated in Spain and Poland in 2014, with an industry target of Europe-wide implementation by the end of 2015. Participating companies will affix stickers to all relevant packaging encouraging farmers and pesticide operators to use vegetative buffer strips between treatment areas and water bodies. The stickers will include a link to a dedicated webpage providing an explanation of the recommended measures in local languages.
"The launch of this scheme coincides with the first delivery of a new training programme tailor-made for our company Sales and Marketing personnel which includes modules on water and biodiversity. The marketing and sales of crop protection products represents an excellent opportunity for our industry to pass on best practice advice to crop protection retailers, farmers and growers.
"The VBS stickers and training reflect the commitment of the crop protection industry to protect and enhance water and biodiversity in Europe. While implementing these projects is at times challenging, I am very pleased that our industry has found a way to work together in this genuinely Europe-wide exercise to help protect the environment and help ensure the sustainable use of crop protection products" - commented Friedhelm Schmider, Director General of ECPA.
"We take the protection of water and biodiversity seriously;" continued Schmider "last month we published two comprehensive crop protection user guides for the prevention of water pollution from pesticides through run-off and drift."
"These publications are the product of more than eight years of back-to-back water focused projects. A 2005 European Commission LIFE co-funded project kick-started a programme of industry led stewardship that continues today through a partnership supported by ECPA" - added Rutherford.
"Stewardship activities are not new to our industry, and we are building momentum. Our experience with stewardship, together with renewed commitment to improving the performance and contribution of our industry is a productive combination. We see the protection of water as a key pillar of our work, and we are committed to work continuously to support the correct use of pesticides, as part of sustainable and productive agriculture." concluded Schmider.
 The VBS scheme has so far received the official backing of ECPA member companies BAYER, BASF SE, DOW Agrosciences, DUPONT, MAKHTESHIM Agan, MONSANTO, and SYNGENTA. The scheme is open to all relevant companies and is actively recruiting new participants.
 With sticker production and product packaging taking place during Q3 and Q4 2013, it is intended that all reasonable efforts will be made to ensure that applicable products are marketed in the 2014 calendar year in Spain and Poland with the VBS promoting sticker attached. Subject to the learnings from this initial phase in 2014, the intention is for Europe-wide implementation by the end of 2015.
 Referring to guidance publications - 'Run-off: Best Management Practices to reduce water pollution with plant protection products from run-off and erosion', and 'Spray drift: Best Management Practices to reduce spray drift', produced as part of ECPA multi-stakeholder initiatives TOPPS and TOPPS-prowadis. For more information, visit http://www.topps-life.org to download the publications, visit http://www.ecpa.eu/information-page/environmental-protection/water-publications-topps
 The TOPPS-prowadis project (Train the Operator to Promote best Practices and Sustainability - Protection of Water from Diffuse Sources) is an ongoing project developing Best Management Practices and diagnosis tools to reduce losses of PPP due to field runoff and spray drift. The project started in 2011 after the TOPPS life project which focussed on the reduction of point sources. TOPPS prowadis has so-far engaged more than 300 key stakeholder in the selection of Best Management Practices and trained more than 250 advisors in 7 European countries (BE, DE, DK, ES, FR, IT, PL). The project concentrates now on the dissemination of BMPs and reduction measures mainly to advisers and farmers (Information, trainings, demonstrations, publications). Runoff mitigation measures are demonstrated in 6 pilot areas. For further information on TOPPS projects, visit: http://www.topps-life.org/
 In 2011 ECPA launched the 'Time to Change' initiative, the fruit of extensive critical evaluation of the performance and contribution of the crop protection industry; the initiative aims to deliver measurable results in the four thematic areas of safeguarding water, the enhancement of biodiversity, the provision of safe and affordable food and the protection of health. This strategy reflects industry's ambition to deliver sustainable solutions to contemporary agricultural challenges. More at http://www.hungry4change.eu
The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) represents the crop protection industry interests at European level. Its members include all major companies and national associations across Europe
Gavin Whitmore, Biodiversity and eCommunication Manager, ECPA. firstname.lastname@example.org
European Crop Protection Association, aisbl,
Switchboard : +32(0)2-663-1550
For more general information:
http://www.pesticideinformation.eu - http://www.hungry4change.eu - facebook.com/cropprotection - twitter.com/cropprotection
SOURCE The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA)