The project provided evidence for the co-design of the SFI IPM Standard and for determining the structure of economic incentives for farmer participation in the scheme. An online IPM Tool was developed which delivers guidance and reporting, helping farmers plan, implement and, record IPM.
The project was overseen by a steering group of stakeholders and addressed four ELM theme areas summarised in the sub-sections below.
Co-design of the IPM SFI Standard
• Paid actions being considered by Defra for inclusion in the SFI Standard were checked against the evidence related to their effectiveness, impact on biodiversity and breadth of applicability across crops.
Some of the proposed paid actions were justified, either on the grounds of positive biodiversity impact or good evidence for efficacy and scope for increased uptake. However, most of the proposed paid actions were limited in the range of pests against which they would be effective, so their impact on reducing the need for pesticide use would be limited.
The proposed paid actions were compared against a wider list of IPM actions, which identified additional actions for consideration, with greater potential for impact. Their suitability as paid actions depends on how they can be defined in the Standard and verified.
The need for flexibility in the IPM SFI Standard was identified, so farmers can implement actions that are feasible and beneficial in their cropping system.
• Defra published details of the IPM SFI Standard on 26 January 2023. This included a flexible choice of actions for farmers, with payment rates defined for each action
• The evidence from this T&T has identified a significant risk that the paid actions will achieve limited impacts in relation to reducing the risks associated with pesticide use.
Recommendation: There is considerable scope to further IPM and address the risks associated with pesticide use, through improved guidance and resources to support farmers and advisers, and by adding effective paid actions to the Standard.
Recommendation: Success achieved in practice should be reviewed against a baseline, in the years following introduction of the SFI IPM Standard. Methods are proposed to measure progress.
Incentive payment rates
• A broad group of possible paid actions was considered in workshops with farmers from the arable and horticultural sectors, to inform SFI payment rates. A choice experiment was used to understand risk/reward and explore how changes in payments would affect uptake.
• The workshops identified the proportion of participants already implementing each paid action, to estimate the extent to which incentives would be funding actions which are already being used.
• Some of the proposed paid actions were not practically feasible, or carried unacceptable financial risks, in some cropping systems. Inclusion of these actions in ‘bundles’ of paid actions (representing potential ‘Introductory’, ‘Intermediate’ or ‘Advanced’ levels - as proposed in draft versions of the SFI IPM Standard) led to very high levels of subsidy being indicated.
Recommendation: Flexibility within the SFI IPM Standard is key to ensuring wide scale uptake.
An IPM Tool for land management planning
• An online, interactive IPM Tool was developed for farmers and advisers to create, record and plan IPM activity.
• The IPM Tool guides users to: (i) identify important pests (invertebrates, weeds and diseases) that drive pesticide use on their farm, (ii) identify effective IPM measures for those pests, (iii) record a plan of IPM measures they will implement.
• Farmers and agronomists signed-up to become project participants and were invited to use the IPM tool to plan their IPM. 113 registered participants undertook this process, creating 231 plans, for the following crops: winter wheat (91), oilseed rape (33), winter barley (27), winter beans (20), grassland (16), sugar beet (11), peas (10), maize (8), potatoes (8), winter oats (6) and apples (1).
• The IPM planning that resulted from using the IPM Tool, recorded substantial commitments to increase IPM actions compared to current practice.
• Participants overwhelmingly indicated that they would recommend to other farmers to consider using the online IPM Tool to help plan crop-specific IPM.
• Barriers to using the online IPM Tool were: lack of awareness of the tool; computer literacy; fear (of consequences if they implement something incorrectly); lack of financial incentive for the time input and if the tool became mandatory.
• The online IPM Tool was complimented for its ease of use, suitable language for a farmer audience, logical flow and links to up-to-date information from respected organisations.
Recommendation: The IPM Tool should be made publicly available to provide guidance and aid IPM planning, as one of a range of tools and plans that will help farmers engage in the IPM SFI Standard (2023 cropping season).
Advice and guidance
• Advice and guidance will be critical for achieving Defra’s public good aims, as paid actions in SFI are limited.
• Links to video and written guidance are provided on the ‘landing page’ of the IPM Tool.
• The IPM Tool and guidance were created to ensure that farmers could engage with IPM without agronomist support, although it is recognised and incentivised (through SFI) that agronomists should be a key source of advice and should be engaged in the planning process.
• There is a clear distinction and synergy between advice (from BASIS qualified advisers) and guidance, such as that provided through the IPM Tool.
• User feedback on the video and written guidance was positive.
• For the IPM Tool to remain of value, it will require annual updating or withdrawal of guidance. This is particularly important for guidance from the AHDB horticulture and potato legacy websites.
• Updates should be responsive to: (i) changes in research knowledge, and (ii) feedback from agronomists and farmers. The latter could be pro-actively facilitated and verified by establishing an IPM network.
Recommendation: Mechanisms need to be defined and implemented for annual updating of the IPM guidance provided through the IPM Tool.
|Commissioning body||UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs|
|Number of pages||142|
|Publication status||Print publication - 30 Mar 2023|
- IPM tool
- IPM plan