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Farmers can reduce the use of pesticides

With the aid of the computer programme ’Planteværn OnLine’ there is potential for reducing the use of pesticides, especially if the programme reduces the adminstrative workload for the farmer.

Is it possible to get farmers to reduce their use of pesticides even more? Researchers from the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences (DIAS) and advisers from the Danish Agricultural Advisory Service (DAAS), National Centre, have investigated the possibilities.

The scientists and advisers have jointly developed Planteværn Online (PVO). This is a system that, based on records kept by the farmer, can produce topical instructions on how to protect against weeds, pests and diseases in a wide range of crops. Now the researchers and advisers have investigated what potential the system has for reducing the uses of pesticides in the field.

The results indicate that Planteværn Online is a suitable tool for reducing the number of treatments in the field. The study also shows that it is important to maintain a close dialogue with the users with regard to developing decision support systems. Different groups of farmers have different requirements for knowledge and information and this must be taken into consideration when developing the systems.

Well on its way

A considerable reduction in the use of fungicides has already taken place. This is partly due to positive research results in reducing dosages and the relatively high prices for fungicides.The use of Planteværn Online may potentially give a higher reduction because the system is able to adjust its instructions and advice according to the degree of infestation and the resistance of the grain varieties, among other things.

Planteværn Online’s greatest potential for reduction most probably lies within the area of protection against weeds. There is considerable potential for reducing the use of herbicide in spring barley and wheat. The potential for reduction has, however, been diminished in the later years since there are generally more problems with weed grasses partly due to more winter crops and earlier sowing in the autumn. This specifically increases the need for follow-up spring protection in the winter crop.

The fact that the fields have grown in size increases the probability that the individual fields will contain more weed species, which in turn increases the number of treatments required. Until it becomes technically possible to differentiate local treatment against weeds, this development contributes to an increasing use of herbicides. New sensor techniques for weed registration and construction of weed maps can, together with the use of injection sprayers, contribute to optimising the use of herbicides even more.

With regard to pests and diseases, the scientists are working on using regional climate and disease data as sources of information when evaluating the need for spraying. This new approach is being taken with the specific aim of reducing the need for recording of data for the individual fields. By easing the recording burden for the farmer it may be possible to increase his motivation for using the system.

For more information please contact:

Senior scientist Lise Nistrup Jørgensen, Department of Integrated Pest Management, Research Centre Flakkebjerg, telephone: 8999 3652, e-mail: [email protected]

Wednesday 20 December 2006 | Communication Unit