Pesticides may be decreased with out impacting earnings –

It’s potential to scale back pesticide use with Built-in Pest Administration (IPM) strategies whereas guaranteeing farms stay economically worthwhile, a community of European farmers advised MEPs within the European Parliament’s agriculture committee.

Learn the unique French article right here.

With discussions on the proposal to see the use and threat of pesticides halved by 2030 at the moment are in full swing, representatives from EU-wide farm community IPMWORKS, which specialises in demonstrating and selling cost-effective IPM methods, sought to abate EU lawmakers’ fears in a public listening to on Tuesday (23 Might).

Funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, this challenge brings collectively 22 teams of round ten farmers in 16 EU international locations to discover the large-scale rollout of IPM.

IPM is an ecosystem-based technique that focuses on managing pests via a mixture of methods utilized so as of hierarchy to minimise using chemical plant safety merchandise. In contrast to natural farming, pesticides will not be banned in IPM, however should stay a final resort.

Whereas IPM is enshrined within the EU’s 2009 Directive on the sale of plant safety merchandise, and has even been, not less than theoretically, obligatory since 2014, its uptake stays gradual and the idea too imprecise, based on many MEPs.

There are additionally recurrent fears about how you can stability decreasing pesticide use with financial viability – a difficulty the challenge has been exploring in depth.

“For the previous two years, we have now been accumulating knowledge on farms to reveal that it’s potential to do with out pesticides, whereas sustaining financial exercise,” IPMWORKS coordinator Nicolas Munier-Jolain, who can also be a researcher at INRAE, France’s Institute for Agriculture, Meals and the Setting, advised EURACTIV.

To coach its teams of farmers, IPMWORKS relied on current networks in sure international locations, comparable to DEPHY, which brings collectively greater than 2,000 French farmers, in addition to with DIPS in Germany, GROEN within the Netherlands, LEAF within the UK and PESTIRED in Switzerland.

From 2020 to 2022, these farmers gave IPMWORKS knowledge on their practices and strategies.

On the presentation earlier than EU lawmakers on 23 Might, Portuguese vegetable grower Bruno Neves introduced his outcomes after a number of years of IPM.

By investing in water management and organic pest management strategies utilizing wasps and bumblebees, he has been in a position to scale back his use of pesticides by 75%.

“We have now to focus on residing ecosystems, attempt to perceive them, to learn how they may help us,” stresses the farmer, insisting on the necessity for a robust information and expertise of the ‘dynamic’ nature of manufacturing.

The identical applies additional north, in Belgium, close to Bruges.

Mathias Jonckheere, a greenhouse strawberry grower, has managed to scale back using pesticides by 95% and fungicides by 50% within the area of 5 years by combining disease-resistant varieties, high-quality temperature management in greenhouses and pure predators.

“Those that use the least pesticides acknowledge that they’re simply as worthwhile, and that they’ve higher illness management than their typical neighbours”, mentioned IPMWORKS’s Munier-Jolain, primarily based on farmer testimonials obtained since 2020.

Challenges stay

Regardless of these spectacular outcomes, the farmers additionally famous the difficulties.

“We have now to farm sustainably, whereas assembly the calls for of the market,” warned Neves, who continues to produce supermarkets.

“If a predator isn’t efficient, we attempt one thing else. It’s important to adapt on a regular basis. And clearly, some years are tougher than others,” Jonckheere, who takes care of a number of hectares of strawberries, added.

In line with Munier-Jolain, decreasing therapies to such an extent stays a problem, because it requires a serious overhaul of crops and pest administration.

However IPM strategies are nonetheless not broadly utilized in Europe, as showcased by pesticide consumption struggling to fall within the European Union.

After a pointy decline in 2019, the sale of plant safety merchandise in France rebounded by 23% in 2020.

“Chemical merchandise are nonetheless too low cost. Spraying with a chemical product prices €15 per hectare, whereas with IPM the prices soar,” German Inexperienced MEP Martin Häusling mentioned, calling for IPM to be “imposed” on farmers.

One other recurring comment considerations the affect of agricultural advisers linked to agrochemical companies, who impose business pressures and hinder the unfold of knowledge on these little-known practices.

“We want minimal necessities, as we have now for natural farming, for IPM practices and their merchandise. Shoppers additionally want to have the ability to make sense of them,” confused Italian MEP Herbert Dorfmann (EPP).

The IPMWORKS challenge is at present launching a brand new survey that may present exact outcomes on the discount in pesticide consumption on every of the farms within the community primarily based on tried and examined indicators. The outcomes are anticipated in early 2024.

[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]

Learn extra with EURACTIV

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