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The challenges facing IPM implementation in Europe

November 12, 2014

Photograph: Janne Hansen, Aarhus University

Around 50 participants gathered in Berlin, Germany, for the first workshop of the C-IPM ERA-NET, with the aim of identifying key challenges facing the implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Europe.

C-IPM (Coordinated Integrated Pest Management) was launched earlier this year, bringing together 32 organisations from 21 countries. Backed with almost €2 million through the European Commission's ERA-NET scheme, C-IPM's overall goal is to ensure a higher level of IPM implementation across Europe by creating synergies from national investments in research and extension, from European initiatives, and from private sector activities in the areas of IPM and minor uses.

October's workshop brought together participants representing policy makers, agricultural advisers, government officials, research and development organisations, researchers and stakeholders from 14 European countries to identify and address long-term needs and strategies for national and transnational IPM research programmes and to ensure the emergence of cutting edge, far-sighted and innovative approaches.

Four core approaches were addressed by the workshop (policy, market, climate change, and research and innovation), with presentations from experts addressing the first three. These presentations can be viewed on the C-IPM website. The workshop then tackled four key questions with regard to these topics and their potential role as a driving force for IPM implementation in Europe:

  1. How will pesticide policies, including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), affect the availability of plant protection products in the EU and how can IPM mitigate possible side effects?
  2. How will climate change affect the distribution and impact of native and invasive pests in agriculture and does IPM have a role to play in mitigating the negative effects of climate change?
  3. Do retailers have a role to play in distributing knowledge and interest in IPM among consumers? Will the preferences of consumers influence the implementation of IPM in the future?
  4. What is the role of research and knowledge transfer for advisers and farmers in the adoption of IPM?

These were addressed using a 'world café' approach, whereby participants were divided into four groups, discussing and drawing conclusions for a specific question before rotating and addressing the following question, thereby allowing all the groups to address all the questions.

With regards to policy, there was general agreement that the number of available pesticides will continue to decrease in the near future as a consequence of European Union pesticide policy. This will increase the demand for alternative solutions and willingness to implement IPM. However, farmers could face major problems if pesticides are removed faster than IPM guidelines can be developed. Participants believed there are initiatives in the CAP which could promote the implementation of IPM measures, even though IPM implementation is not part of the CAP.

As to whether climate change will promote or impede IPM, it was concluded that it is difficult to be precise, as other drivers affecting IPM cannot be separated from climate change. However, most participants agreed that climate change will encourage the development of early warning systems for forecasting and pest monitoring, and promote research to create knowledge for better understanding of the biology and epidemiology of pests and their natural antagonists.

Participants concluded that it is important to distinguish the role of global change from that of climate change. While increased global trade can promote the introduction of invasive pests into a given region, climate change affects their potential establishment and impact. Hence, the most critical situations are created when global change is coupled with climate change.

With regard to the role of consumers and retailers, it was noted that the minimum residue level (MRL) requirements of some retail and supermarket chains, essentially a handful of major global players, are counterproductive to the IPM concept with regard to resistance management, use of selective pesticides, the use of treatment thresholds and environmental sustainability.

The perceived risk by consumers, which is promoted by NGOs and the media, is a clear driving force to MRL settings below the actual legal thresholds. It is important for the agricultural business to engage in the public discussion with facts about IPM to ensure a broad and multidirectional discussion.

As for the role of research and knowledge transfer, one of the main conclusions was that instead of a narrow focus on specific crop-pest-time relationships, IPM implementation will benefit from a more broad system approach in research for long-term. For many crops we already have substantial knowledge of the individual crop-pest relationships, but lack the overall research to combine them into system guidelines with a focus on sustainable and resilient farm systems.

Immediately prior to PURE's 2015 congress, IPM innovation in Europe (link), in Poznan, Poland, C-IPM will be holding a second research and development workshop focusing on the different histories of IPM research throughout European Member States.

During the January 13 meeting, an opening session will examine the organisation of IPM research in different European countries, the major topics addressed and the translation into practice of research outcomes. A second session will be devoted to discussions on research methods and approaches adopted throughout Member States (analytical research versus a more holistic approach), the added value of long-term experiments and the relevance of demonstration farms.

For more information:

More news from: ENDURE - EU Network for the Durable Exploitation of Crop Protection Strategies

Website: http://www.endure-network.eu

Published: November 12, 2014

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