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Intergrated Pest Management Widens Farmers’ Control Repertoire

Intergrated Pest Management Widens Farmers’ Control Repertoire

03 October 2014

DENMARK - A wide range of control measures can be used In the battle against weeds, pests and diseases IN agricultural crops. Denmark is leader of the pack when it comes to research in integrated pest management.

Life would be so much easier if all the farmer had to do was to sow and to harvest. But, unfortunately, farming is not that simple. Before the crop is ready for harvesting it has to compete with weeds for nutrients, light and water, and it will need to defend itself against attacks from pests and diseases.

The farmer can come to the aid of the plants – but this does not simply involve treating fields with various insecticides. These days the farmer's portfolio for plant protection consists of a wide range of measures in an integrated pest management (IPM) system.

Targeted spraying

IPM gives farmers more tools in the toolbox in the fight against weeds, pests and diseases. Researchers from Aarhus University are continually developing new methods and strategies for integrated pest management in close cooperation with, among others, the agricultural industry and the University of Southern Denmark (SDU).

To this end, a significant research achievement is the intelligent spray boom, which researchers from the Department of Agroecology have helped develop in collaboration with SDU.

The principle of the intelligent boom is that the nozzles will only open when weeds have been visually detected. The system consists of a camera, a vision system and an image processing module, and a control system for the opening and closing of individual nozzles. Field experiments carried out at Aarhus University’s Flakkebjerg site in the spring and summer of 2013 show that herbicide consumption can be reduced by up to 60 percent.

The right crops

Researchers from Aarhus University are also working on developing new crop varieties that are resistant to the most severe plant pests and diseases. All other things being equal, higher plant resistance will lead to less use of chemicals.

Growing break crops and cover crops is another measure that can be used to reduce weed pressure and thus the use of herbicides. Researchers from Aarhus University are exploring different cultivation strategies and plant varieties to optimise the use of break crops and cover crops.

The knowledge created by researchers will be synthesized into decision support systems for farmers. In this way, the results will be translated into practical tools for the farmer.

Knowledge crosses borders

It is not only in Denmark that IPM is used to fight weeds, pests and diseases in crops. The EU has adopted a framework directive for the sustainable use of pesticides.

This means that all EU countries must have a national action plan for pesticides, in order to reduce the environmental and health effects associated with their use, and that individual countries must implement IPM in order to minimise the use of pesticides.

Research results from Aarhus University will benefit other EU countries partly via a number of international research projects. One example is the EU project DSS Herbicide where Aarhus University participated along with researchers from Poland and Germany. The project finished in 2013, and the objective was to disperse and adapt Danish knowledge on the intelligent use of herbicides in winter wheat to the other two countries.

TheCropSite News Desk

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