Committed to Sustainable Plant Production for the Reduction of Pesticides

Vegetables and fruits are an essential part of a healthy diet - but it is these foods in particular which usually require an above-average use of plant-protection products (PPPs). Plant protection is indispensable, as it ensures quantity and quality of yield in all plant crops and production systems. At Agroscope, developing alternatives to chemical PPPs and the breeding of disease-resistant varieties are prime concerns. In order to make its research achievements in the hot-topic field of plant protection better known to agricultural practitioners, Agroscope is stepping up communication with immediate effect, and giving its experts the floor. The first article kicks off with Eva Reinhard, Head of Agroscope. In this interview, she explains what research is achieving, and what it can still achieve.

Since agricultural research has existed, the topic of plant protection has been of prime importance. As part of the new 2018-21 Work Programme, Agroscope - the Swiss Confederation’s centre of excellence for research in the agriculture and food sector - has made a major contribution to the implementation of the Action Plan for Risk Reduction and Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products - the PPP Action Plan for short - with over 50 research projects.

Are you familiar with the ’Fred’ pear, or the Divico and Divona grape varieties’ These new crop-plant varieties developed by Agroscope are already disease-tolerant, and require only minimal use of PPPs. Or have you heard about the Japanese beetle, which is causing major harvest losses in Italian fruit and grape crops’ Agroscope has already developed an effective biological ’weapon’ for neutralising the beetle, should it make inroads into Switzerland.

Only with appropriate plant protection is it possible to achieve sustainable agricultural production without frequent yield and harvest losses owing to noxious organisms. Agroscope constantly researches new processes, technologies and strategies, with the aim of improving the efficacy of plant-protection measures and reducing the risks they pose for humans and the environment. Agroscope makes alternatives to chemical PPPs available to agricultural practitioners, who can then use these preventively or to control pests, diseases and weeds.

Where the use of chemical plant-protection products is still unavoidable, Agroscope develops methods and strategies for reducing emissions and risks. Part of this involves e.g. optimising the timing of use, as well as the cultivation systems, the application processes and the plant-protection products used.

Eva Reinhard, Head of Agroscope, explains in the interview (see first link) what research is achieving, and what it can still achieve.

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