Perspectives on the implementation of IPM in EU: the contribution of PURE

The FP7 PURE project aimed (i) to provide practical IPM solutions – combinations of tactics and strategies – to reduce reliance on pesticides, based on integrative research; and (ii) to deliver scientific knowledge to design future IPM solutions, based on innovative research in challenging fields: pest evolution, plant-pestenemy interactions, soil and landscape ecology and emerging technologies.

To reach these objectives, the PURE team (22 partners distributed all over Europe) studied various pests (pathogenic agents, animal pests, weeds) in key European farming systems: annual arable farming systems (wheat-based and maize-based, field vegetables with cabbage as a model crop), perennial systems (pome fruit and grapevine) and protected crops, with tomato as a model crop.

The design of IPM solutions relied on a wide variety of tactics such as biocontrol products in field vegetables, apple or grapevine, and strategies such as diversified crop sequences in wheat- and maize-based farming systems. On three case studies, a co-innovation approach was applied to improve the involvement of stakeholders in the design process. IPM solutions were tested and compared to current practices on-station and on-farm and assessed by several tools developed or adapted during the project, which include DEXiPM to assess sustainability on a multi-criteria basis, SYNOPS, a multi-level pesticide risk assessment tool, and a cost-benefit analysis.

Efficient alternatives to pesticides, i.e. biological, cultural, physical (e.g. mechanical weeding), and genetic (e.g. cultivar mixtures) control methods and their combination were identified. Promising results were obtained even if the IPM systems did not always allow the best outcome for all sustainability criteria simultaneously. Newly identified IPM systems achieved better environmental performances compared to current systems, with efficient pest control, but their costs were often higher even if it was not systematic. In addition, significant methodological breakthroughs were achieved with regards to the modelling for sustainable management of crop health. Pest evolution studies warned against reliance on a single biocontrol agent and suggested pathways for durable plant resistance, in particular the use of single gene strategies that can act as “stepping stones” for breaking the resistance provided by pyramiding strategies. The works on plant-pest-enemy interactions enabled progress in the identification of biocontrol products and in means to make them more effective. Ecological engineering strategies showed potential, leading to shifts in pathogen suppressing components of the soil community at the field scale and the suppression of pest populations in response to crop and land use patterns at the landscape scale. A wide range of technological tools to help implement IPM was designed or adapted in relation to the activities on farming systems, from monitoring systems at different scales to precision spraying techniques to reduce the amount of pesticides.

On the whole, the PURE project provided promising results, models, knowledge, and practical tools and approaches to help implement IPM. In addition to their applications, the PURE results suggest various prospects such as designing public policies to encourage IPM adoption, fostering the design of IPM as a system approach, promoting both ecological and technological knowledge and tools for pest control, or developing co-innovation approaches and tools to facilitate the implementation of IPM with stakeholders.

Françoise Lescourret1; Jean-Noël Aubertot, Per Kudsk, Maurizio Sattin, Martin Hommes, Bart Heijne, Ilaria Pertot, Christine Poncet, Pieter de Wolf, Wopke van der Werf, Toby Bruce, Graham Begg, Ard Nieuwenhuizen, Marleen Riemens, Philippe Delval, Aurélie Brehmer2 and the PURE consortium

1 INRA, UR1115 Plants and Cropping Systems in Horticulture, Domaine Saint Paul, site Agroparc, 84914 Avignon cedex 9; France - francoise.lescourret@avignon.inra.fr 

2 leaders of PURE work packages (see Pure website for contact details) 

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/ 2007-2013) under the grant agreement n°265865- PURE