The European Commission has recently (June 2022) begun to move forward on its objective to cut pesticides by 50% by 2030, as was originally outlined in the 2019 Farm to Fork Strategy as part of the Green Deal.
The Commission’s draft regulation sets forth some clear pathways towards this significant reduction in pesticide use which includes a greater implementation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by farmers.
In addition, the Commission proposes to amend the regulation on CAP strategic plans, allowing member states to offer CAP funding to farmers for implementing IPM.
Pests, which refer to invertebrate pests, weeds and diseases, present a significant threat to the productivity of Irish crop farms, requiring substantial levels of pesticide inputs each year, Jennifer Byrne, Teagasc researcher says.
The European Commission defines IPM (in the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive 2009/128/EC) as “careful consideration of all available plant protection methods and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of populations of harmful organisms and keep the use of plant protection products and other forms of intervention to levels that are economically and ecologically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment”.
“IPM emphasises the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agroecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.”
As Jennifer Byrne of Teagasc explains to That’s Farming:
“IPM does not, therefore, require a complete abandonment of chemical intervention, but it does require a broader and more holistic approach to pest management.”
“It is within this context that a new Teagasc research project sets out to establish the impact of IPM on the economic and environmental sustainability of Irish horticulture.”
“To date, limited data is available on the role of IPM in farm-level economic and environmental performance for Irish growers.”
“For IPM to form the basis of pesticide usage reduction as per the Green Deal, the existing level of familiarity and adoption of the practice must be more fully understood.”
“A key component in closing the current knowledge gap is in establishing which techniques Irish growers are utilising to manage their specific crop protection issues, including chemical and non-chemical approaches.”
Byrne is asking Irish growers to contribute to this research by completing a 3-minute survey on their crop protection programme. The survey, she adds, is entirely anonymous.
“Contributions are highly valued and will inform the direction of this research project over the next three years,” she concluded.
You can access the survey via this link.