Towards pesticide-free farming? Sharing needs and knowledge promotes Integrated Pest Management

| Type artikkel: Publisert studie
The overuse of chemical pesticides led to the fast-growing development of resistance in targeted insect pests, as well as to severe effects on non-target organisms and human health as well (Desneux et al. 2007; Benelli 2015, 2018a,b; Naqqash et al. 2016; Pavela and Benelli 2016; Guedes et al. 2016). In plant protection, a number of eco-friendly methods to manage insect pest populations have been developed with the aim to reduce the employ of synthetic pesticides (Gut et al. 2004; Millar 2007; Welter et al. 2005; Witzgall et al. 2010; Brockerhoff et al. 2012; Daane et al. 2012; Miller and Gut 2015).


Andrea Lucchi og Giovanni Benelli



Unfortunately, they are still underused by a substantial number of Mediterranean stakeholders, due to lack of knowledge and trust. Indeed, farm managers are often aware of the existence of alternatives to pesticides. However, they do not know exactly the potency of a given mean or strategy and/or do not have full confidence in their effectiveness (Cooper et al. 2014). This can be partially due to a communication gap among researchers, policy makers, and farmers at country or regional level (Lamichhane et al. 2016).

In the USA, this gap is filled by the University Extension Services, which support farmers disseminating research-based information, to implement innovative methods for pests and diseases (Gadino 2012; Gadino et al. 2016). In recent years, the public Extension network experienced a fruitful cooperation with the private sector, encouraging and delivering effective and implementable solutions leading to substantial benefits to farmers (Krell et al. 2016). But what happen in European countries hosting important agricultural activities, like Italy? The scenario is patchy and confused. For instance, Trentino South Tyrol (Italy) hosts a good example of close cooperation between growers and research institutions, which allowed establishment of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the Region. Notably, the driving force for IPM implementation was the adoption in the last 20 years of the pheromone-mediated mating disruption (MD), which strongly reduced insecticide use in that Region. MD has been applied from the 1990s with an area-wide approach against the codling moth and the leafrollers on apple crop, and against the vine moths in the vineyards (Ioriatti and Lucchi 2016). Although the mountainous terrain of the area was not optimal for the efficacy of MD, grower cooperatives and their field consultants were strongly influential in convincing growers to accept MD technology. Public research institutions conducted extensive research and education, and provided credible assessments of various MD formulations (Ioriatti et al. 2011, 2012). Thus, the development and adoption of area-wide mating disruption in Trentino-South Tyrol resulted from the merging of several favorable factors, which brought together researchers, advisors, cooperatives, growers, pheromone distributors, and related industries.

The results achieved in Trentino-South Tyrol have not been replicated in the rest of Italy, due in part to the lack of cooperation between research institutes, industry, and growers. On the other hand, some promising signals have been recently noted. Here, we focused on a fruitful cooperation between University and farms, which recently led—in less than 4 years—to the adoption of pesticide-free IPM approaches in about 1200 ha of highly valued Tuscan vineyards.


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