PAN UK wants to see much more support for farmers to convert to organic systems, however, we believe it is also essential to work to reduce reliance on pesticides in the 95% of agriculture that is not yet organic.
Reducing reliance includes reducing the total volumes of pesticides applied; selecting the least hazardous products; as well as improving practices to reduce the risk to human health and the environment.
Just as important is to make better use of naturally occurring pest control (‘natural enemies’, such as ladybirds, that feed on insect pests) and a variety of non-chemical methods for managing, not eliminating, pests, plant diseases and weeds. We support the principle of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in which a range of biological, physical and crop husbandry techniques are combined, with pesticide use only as a last resort if other methods cannot cope. Growing a healthy crop more able to resist pest or disease attack is the foundation of good IPM.
In apple production, for example, various software packages can be used to help predict the likelihood of attack of different diseases in relation to local weather and growing conditions. Using these kinds of forecasting tools allows growers to reduce fungicide use and make better timed applications when necessary. Planting apple varieties which are less susceptible to key diseases is also useful. Avoiding the use of broad-spectrum insecticides preserves the natural predators of red spider mite pests, while traps based on the female sex attractant of codling moth pest reduce the mating opportunities and leads to lower levels of this pest. Planting flowering strips along orchard borders attracts beneficial insects such as lacewings and parasitic wasps, whose larvae feed on aphids and other pests. Herbicide use can be cut by mechanical weeding or sowing clover between rows to suppress weeds.
Putting IPM into practice requires farmers to learn new decision-making skills and understand the agroecological processes in their fields. Training and advice is needed. Experience from developing countries with IPM Farmer Field School training shows that pesticide use can often be cut by at least 50%, while increasing yields and saving farmers money on expensive agrochemicals, which are often used inefficiently or in unnecessary amounts.
For the UK and other European countries, a more concerted IPM approach must be implemented, to reduce the high health and environmental costs of current levels of pesticide reliance. To make this happen, governments should provide policy support for IPM and invest in training and research, along with provide technical and financial support from food supply chains to help farmers change practice. We work with PAN Europe colleagues to advocate for effective IPM policies. www.pan-europe.info/Campaigns/agriculture.html
Success stories in IPM and pesticide reduction and news on progress in the field using non-chemical alternatives are published regularly in PAN UK’s journal Pesticides News.
Latest articles from Pesticide News:
PN 86 Shropshire sheep control weeds in orchards
PN 85 Europe moves towards IPM- the case of Slovakia
PN 85 Cotton IPM impact in Ethiopia
PN 85 IPM implementation- overcoming barriers to grower adoption
PN 84 A new tool for improving organic cotton yields in Africa
PN 84 Biological control of armyworm in Africa- pitfalls and solutions
PN 84 Garlic- from Nature’s ancient food to nematicide
Publications Archive in old site:
Control of Pesticides and IPM
Control of Pesticides and Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Implementation of Farmer Participatory IPM and Better Chemical Management (2001-2003) is available on-line in English, French and Spanish.
PAN UK developed these resources and guidelines for policy makers, regulators and others concerned about pesticides in developing countries, and actively promoting the alternatives. The resource pack includes a set of 14 Pest Management Notes, strategies for promoting IPM, and a full list of pesticide active ingredient hazards.