Field vegetable growers are being urged to observe tighter conditions when applying chlorpyrifos from next month.
Low-drift nozzles should be used applying the insecticide and sprayers should leave a 20m no-spray buffer zone next to watercourses, according to new guidelines.
Chlorpyrifos has been threatened with outright withdrawal. But industry campaign "Say No to Drift", backed by UK suppliers Dow AgroSciences, Headland Agrochemicals and Makhteshim Agan and coordinated by ADAS, promoted a voluntary approach in the fruit sector to keep it on the market.
"It's simply a case of no drift or no chlorpyrifos," said Dow ecotoxicologist Steve Norman at an event launching the campaign to the field vegetable, arable and grassland industries.
He added that the Chemicals Regulations Directorate (CRD) had already ruled that, given the chemical's toxicity to aquatic life, existing watercourse buffer zones were inadequate.
"The CRD criteria cannot be met by introducing larger buffer zones alone, meaning that low-drift nozzles are now a necessity."
The directive will only allow the renewal of the product's registration if the industry demonstrates adherence to the guidelines, he added.
"The aim is to achieve 100 per cent uptake of low-drift nozzles and extended buffer zones for all 2012 applications and beyond. We need every grower, spray operator and adviser to get behind the initiative," Norman urged.
Nozzle use Risk rating requirement
Key to the continued use of chlorpyrifos is an industry-wide adoption of nozzles given a three-star rating under the Local Environment Risk Assessment for Pesticides (LERAP) scheme.
According to a representative of the Say No To Drift campaign: "Unlike in the fruit sector, low-drift nozzles are already established in the arable and grassland sectors, and contractors will already use them.
"However, for chlorpyrifos they need to be LERAP three-star-rated, their output depending on how fast the operator drives."