Prospective study on the robustness of the integrated production and protection solutions with regard to global climate change

Protected tomato crops in southern countries are evolving from a purely chemical management to a strategy based on biological control of pests where pesticides against pests are nowadays rarely used. This process began with the use of bumblebees for pollination, which conditioned farmers to choose those pesticides selective with these pollinators.

Consequently, the use of broad-spectrum pesticides was significantly decreasing as the use of bumblebees was being adopted in most tomato crops in these areas. The use of selective pesticides opened the door to the first releases of natural enemies in this crop, although chemical control still was the main control measure to fight against pests. At this period, greenhouse crops have been confronted with new invasive pests and diseases coming from countries with warmer climates (e.g. Tomato yellow leaf curl virus). Work to implement IPM based on biological control of pests has been destroyed by these new entries that induced a come back to broad spectrum pesticides to control vectors.

The appearance of an invasive pest Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in 2006 in Europe, prompted to develop strategies to control this threatening tomato pest based on the use of mirid predators. The use of predatory mirid bugs resulted in very effective control of tomato key pests: the whiteflies Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) and Trialeurodes vaporariorum (Westwood) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae), and T. absoluta. Due to the high polyphagy of mirid predators, most tomato pests are under control, with the exception of Aculops lycopersici (Masse) (Acari: Eriophydae) and in some context, thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) which escape to the control of this predator. The success of the use of mirids has minimized the use of pesticides in tomato and the specific treatments conducted are currently mainly targeted to control A. lycopersici with selective acaricides or thrips. Complementary work has been performed on secondary plants intentionally added to the crop system with the aim to of enhancing crop biocontrol services and, by the way, increasing the robustness of tomato agro-ecosystem. Although it is still possible to improve the IPM in tomato especially on diseases, the current IPM strategies tested within PURE project undoubtedly increase tomato crop resilience, and may make this crop more robust against invasive pests with regard to global climate change. 

In this report, advanced IPM strategy that is looking for long-term establishment of generalist beneficials, allows the agro-ecosystem to respond quickly to disturbances induced by a large panel of pests and diseases. This includes potentially emerging or re-emerging pest invasions as well as periodic massive entries or endemic explosions of many major pests present within European regions. More generally, we assume that this strategy constitutes a very promising approach with the goal to reduce the magnitude and duration of further biological disturbances caused by climate change.

Cropping system: 
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