Alain Gaume - Head of the ‘Plant Protection’ Strategic Research Division
Potatoes, outdoor-grown vegetables and maize: spring is the sowing season in the farming calendar. In choosing the crops and varieties that are best adapted to pedoclimatic conditions and market demand, farmers assume a major responsibility. These decisions as well as their choice of cultivation techniques will also determine how they will protect their crops against pests, diseases and weeds. The plant-protection strategy will influence yields, profit, and impact on the environment.
In this context, the agriculture and research sectors are faced with major challenges:
New pests are emerging, particularly as a result of climate change.
The number of authorised plant-protection products is decreasing, and alternative solutions are frequently lacking.
The Swiss population is increasingly demanding food and drinking water that is free of pesticide residues, as well as a healthy environment. In fact, two popular initiatives aimed at limiting or even banning the use of pesticides are currently under discussion.
Last year, the Swiss Federal Council responded to this necessity by adopting the action plan for the risk-reduction and sustainable use of plant-protection products. In this context, Agroscope and all of its national and international research partners must continue to innovate by developing new sustainable and effective solutions for the prevention and control of harmful organisms. Today, this is no longer a recommendation, but an urgent requirement.
Put in concrete terms, over 40 Agroscope projects focus on sustainable crop protection and contribute to the development of integrated production. You can learn more on this subject by clicking on the various tiers of the Integrated Production pyramid.
Development of integrated production
Click on the various tiers to learn about our projects
Integrated production prioritises prevention, including the selection of resistant varieties and the development of growing techniques that promote plant health. At the same time, it is also essential to monitor the presence of harmful organisms, forecast their development, and gauge the appropriateness of an intervention. Finally, if action needs to be taken, priority should be given to the methods posing the least risk to the environment. Only when all other measures have failed and yields or crop quality are in jeopardy may the farmer fall back on synthetic chemical plant-protection products.
Nothing works without plant protection, because it guarantees the quantity and quality of yields in cereal, fruit and vegetable cultivation, as well as in all other agricultural crops. Now Agroscope too is contributing information on this highly topical issue. Eva Reinhard, Head of Agroscope, explains what research has already achieved and what it may achieve in future.