Perspectives on the implementation of IPM in EU – The advisory perspective

Some major drivers for IPM in European countries are:

  • 1. availability of pesticides: certain old actives are being phased out over the coming years and only few new
  • actives are introduced,
  • 2. increased problems with pest, disease and weed resistance to pesticides,
  • 3. availability of well-documented thresholds and monitoring, forecasting and decision support systems,
  • 4. new developments in non-chemical IPM tools, and
  • 5. requirements from markets and consumers

As neither of the above-mentioned factors are constant, the process of implementation of IPM will be dynamic, where farmers/growers will continually strive to adopt those tools that are relevant and cost effective on their farm. Advisers will be instrumental in that process.

Many IPM tools are more variable in efficacy than chemical pesticides, and therefore it is important that advisers and farmers engage into a learning process in order to ensure that the transition goes smoothly without crop failures etc. Also, it is important to ensure that overall there will be something in IPM for the farmers, otherwise adoption will be slow, and the job of advisers impossible.

Education and extension are important activities to build awareness of IPM tools. Many advisers will need better technical skills (“train the trainer”) as well as new non-technical skills in order to support IPM implementation at the farm level. Experiences from e.g. the EU Leonardo project confirm these statements and outline new roles and tools for advisers. One common tendency is for the role of advisers to change from being “experts giving a prescription” towards acting as “facilitators of innovation and learning processes”.

In Denmark, we have based IPM implementation on a central information system, IPM demonstration farms and focused IPM-advisory packages offered a large number of farms. Other EU member states are backing IPM adoption in other ways. Experiences from the Danish activities regarding IPM implementation suggest that even though IPM is about systems thinking, it is still important to be concrete in advisory activities, and to identify which tools in the IPM toolbox are relevant on a certain farm.

The chance of a successful implementation of IPM increases when growers and advisers engage with other stakeholders in a process where the cropping system is gradually improved, and where limitations can be identified and corrected. Small-scale on-farm experimentation is very useful in that respect. We have also experienced that an increased grower awareness of IPM is a requirement for successful implementation, and that it can sometimes be difficult to measure changes in IPM implementation on the short term. However, so far we have not seen farmers that could not improve their practices to some extent.

A major concern for many advisers regarding IPM is liability. When advising about integrated solutions that are less certain than pesticides, communicating uncertainty to farmers, and making sure that farmers will accept solutions that are more variable will become an important aspect.

IPM implementation calls for a better collaboration between farmers, advisers, stakeholders and scientists to ensure an efficient development of new IPM tools for future farming. The need for innovation-oriented IPM research will continue to be great in the years to come.

 

Jens Erik Jensen - Knowledge Centre for Agriculture (SEGES), 15 Agro Food Park, Skejby, DK-8200 Aarhus N, DENMARK

 

jnj@vfl.dk

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