Integrated Pest Management is a major challenge for French agriculture: it involves effectively controlling crop pests (which threaten quality and yields) while taking into full account the induced risks to health and the environment. ACTA is fully committed, in conjunction with its network of institutes and other partners in research, training and development, in the implementation of this integrated protection and the various axes of France’s Ecophyto plan.
Implementation of Integrated Pest Management
Under the European Directive 2009/128, ACTA, in conjunction with its network, was given the task of helping to facilitate information for farmers, technicians and trainers at the national as well as the community level. ACTA is responsible for developing tools to help target groups find practical information designed to allow them to introduce, recommend and learn. Under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture, ACTA has developed and coordinates the EcophytoPIC IPM portal, to which all the ATIs involved in crop production, ITSAP (beekeeping institute) and the Institut de l’élevage (livestock institute) contribute (funded under the Ecophyto plan). In particular, ACTA is responsible for the development of content for the portal’s transversal platform, including general information, definitions and a guide to the platforms dedicated to different crop production sectors. Therefore the content focuses on both news items (calendar, press reviews, dossiers, and testimonies) but also on technical supports (control methods, impacts of practices, monitoring of research and development programmes). The year 2013 was notable for the launch of five new sector platforms:
- www.grandes-cultures.ecophytopic.fr (arable crops)
- www.arboriculture.ecophytopic.fr (arboriculture)
- www.cultures-legumieres.ecophytopic.fr (vegetable crops)
- www.viticulture.ecophytopic.fr (viticulture)
- www.horti-ppam.ecophytopic.fr (ornamental, perfume, medical and aromatic plants)
EcophytoPIC: the web portal for plant protection
In support of the collective dynamics of the BSV (a regular bulletin on plant health), the Ministry of Agriculture, ACTA and the ATIs launched EcophytoPIC in December 2012.
This transversal platform informs users (farmers, advisers and trainers) through news on IPM (calendar, press reviews, testimonials) but also provides summaries of technical content, giving an overall view of integrated crop protection.
Six platforms are dedicated to the various sectors. They provide more comprehensive and practical information on techniques which can be used as part of IPM. They are devoted to arable crops, vegetable crops, arboriculture, viticulture, horticulture and perfume, aromatic and medicinal plants (PPAM) and, finally, to crops in the tropics (opened in February 2014).
All of these platforms are built on the same model which makes it easier for users to navigate around the portal and find all the items. Currently, nearly 3,000 documents are either posted online or linked.
EcophytoPIC assembles all the information in one location so actors can implement innovative and alternative techniques to chemical protection.
For more information:
Supporting IPM implementation at the national and European scale.
In parallel with this, and beyond CASDAR funding, ACTA has published several books including ‘Protection intégrée des cultures, méthodes et mises en pratique de la protection intégrée’ (integrated crop protection methods and the practical implementation of IPM), co-published by ACTA, the France Agricole group and AFFP. It describes 70 IPM methods, their advantages and limitations, as well as examples of the practical implementation of direct and indirect measures. ACTA has also published and celebrated the 50th edition of the ACTA Index Phytosanitaire (plant health index), disseminated numerous books and conducted training that contributes to a better knowledge of pesticides and the principles of integrated plant protection.
The publications are aids for understanding how to use plant protection products and beneficials for biological control within an IPM strategy.
Establishing an information and dissemination service to support professionals and economic stakeholders in this dynamic of change.
At the European level, ACTA is involved with three ATIs in the PURE (‘Pesticide Use-and-Risk and Reduction in Europe’) European project. In particular, ACTA is responsible for the management of a website to link the various partners in different countries. The content is focused on the production of the results of the research programme in the form of deliverables and virtual tours of experimental plots. ACTA is also responsible for organising meetings of the PURE communication team.
Coordinating experimentation to meet the objectives of the Écophyto plan
Launched in 2012 and 2013 for a period of at least five years, the 41 DEPHY EXPE projects now involve 201 experimental sites across both mainland France and overseas, in accordance with the crop sector involved. The DEPHY EXPE network is notable for the rapid expansion of its projects, with 75% of the experimental sites established since 2011.
It is a network that is unique in several aspects: in its sheer size because of the number of sites monitored, because of the number of sectors concerned, because of the length of the experiments and because of the level of the ‘break’ with current practice chosen. Some 390 ‘break’ cropping systems (involving a major decrease in pesticide inputs) are being tested. On two-thirds of the sites, a ‘classic’ cropping system (called the reference system) is present to better compare the ‘break’ system with the average system at the French farm scale. The ATIs play a major role in this network, as they lead 15 of the 41 selected projects and are partners in most of the other projects.
ACTA, as coordinator of this system, is responsible for supporting the acquisition of references by providing methodological support on procedures (monitoring protocols, decision rules etc.), the indicators used to measure economic and environmental performance and the exploitation of the results.
The year 2013 saw the structuring of the network and collection of experimental data (using Systerre in particular). The year 2014 saw a consolidation of this process with the arrival of the Agrosyst information system updated by INRA.
15 projects out of a total of 41 are led by ATIs.
Improving territorial biological surveillance and epidemiological vigilance
Besides participating in the national commission on epidemiological surveillance, ACTA is contributing to this issue through:
Co-hosting the ‘French Plant Health Network’. Created in 2011, the network aims to promote knowledge and identify common or complementary needs in the fields of research, diagnostics and the skills of stakeholders. The year 2013 was devoted in particular to the creation of the VEGDIAG mixed technology network, which is focused on plant health diagnostics.
Studying opportunities for synergies between monitoring networks, expertise and modelling in the development of France’s plant health bulletin (Bulletin de santé du végétal or BSV).
As part of the SynOEM project, selected in the call for projects ‘for and on the Ecophyto plan’ (PSPE), ACTA is analysing how this integration occurs through the BSV, examining several case studies to provide concrete methodological proposals to improve the synergy between these sources of information. The participation in the project of different actors in the BSV - regional experts, modellers and methodologists - should provide significant progress in improving the quality of plant health risk analysis while retaining solutions compatible with the practical and time constraints of editing the BSV, which must be conducted at extremely short notice.
On this topic, ACTA has decided to invest by hiring a PhD student (CIFRE thesis).
VEGDIAG mixed technology network: "Plant health diagnostics"
Created in 2013 and scheduled to run from 2014 until 2018, the VEGDIAG MTN is aiming to improve the diagnostics of plant health in order to boost the health quality of crop production systems. It covers all sectors and diseases, pests and beneficials. In particular it is focusing on diagnosis which requires the intervention of a laboratory and the relationship between labs and the collection of field data.
VEGDIAG is aiming to improve the quality of plant health diagnostics and support innovations relating to the development of new technologies. In parallel with this, VEGDIAG is also working on the optimisation of data processing and the development of training in plant health.
The more intense interactions between the partners in VEGDIAG will improve the responsiveness of existing organisations when facing general diagnoses by identifying complementarities between research and development teams which are currently scattered across the country.
- Coordination team : ACTA - Inra - ANSES
- Partners : CETIOM, IFV, FNAMS, FN3PT, FREDON France, GEVES, EPLEFPA Le Robillard, EPLEFPA de Tarn et Garonne, Institut SANDAR, IN VIVO AGRO-SOLUTIONS, UFS, VEGENOV-BVV, VEGEPOLYS Innovation.
- Associated partners : ARVALIS , ASTREDHOR-Institut technique de l'horticulture, CIRAD, CTIFL, GERMICOPA , UIPP.
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Increasing knowledge of pests and providing decision support systems (DSS)
New economic, regulatory and environmental issues have revolutionised the concept of weed management. It is no longer possible to rely exclusively on chemical control. Chemical weeding must be supported, supplemented or replaced with an integrated management of weeds and the introduction of alternative techniques. This ‘new deal’ requires those working in research, development and education to collaborate more closely, more systematically and more intensely to overcome the structuring by sector and provide real innovations. Since 2007, ACTA has coordinated the Florad mixed technology network (dedicated to weed management in arable crops), which works on joint projects with public research institutes, institutes addressing all the various arable crops, Chambers of Agriculture and agricultural education organisations.
Florad’s objectives are:
- To explore new fields of action and construct new research and development projects: to identify and classify priority themes in order to provide clear and useful answers
- To offer its expertise and to strengthen the links with national and regional working groups.
- To promote and disseminate results and knowledge: training programmes, coordination, exploiting the results, and the transfer and dissemination of information.
Some major achievements of Florad for 2007-2013:
- 12 tender dossiers prepared (CASDAR, FSOV, SBIP, DEPHY ANR, EC Framework 7); 8 dossiers accepted (simplified techniques, mechanical weeding, annual weeds, Écoherbi (reduced herbicide use) etc.)
- 2 DSS: Infloweb, R-sim
- 1 methodological guide for monitoring weed flora in large plots
- 3 scientific articles and seven major publications; 2 conferences organised and presentations in 9 conferences
A new version of Florad has been approved for the period 2014 - 2018, with the scope expanded to include vineyards and a larger partnership: cooperative groups, agricultural schools and Chambers of Agriculture.
For more information: www.florad.org
In terms of forecasting risk for two of the major soil pests in arable crops, ACTA has participated in two CASDAR projects: one focused on slugs (RESOLIM, led by ACTA) and one on click beetles (led by the ARVALIS plant institute). In parallel, a project was conducted on optimising the biological control of pests (AUXIMORE, led by the Picardy Chamber of Agriculture).
The objective of these projects is to better understand the biology of these organisms, which live in the soil and are therefore difficult for farmers to detect. Indeed, slugs and click beetles can cause considerable damage and over large areas. The purpose of these projects is to provide farmers with the means to predict risk so that they can implement suitable biocontrol methods before considering conventional control methods.
While taking into account the specificities of each harmful or beneficial organism, the scientific approaches of these projects have points in common and the process is generally as follows:
- Setting up observation networks in the field, recording the abundance and harmfulness or beneficial nature of the organisms.
- Creating inventories of experimental data, existing bibliographic data and the creation of a database, conducting surveys.
- Meta-analyses of existing data (quantitative reprocessing of experimental data or existing bibliographic data).
- The construction of models describing the dynamics of pests under different soil and climate conditions.
- The design of a multi-criteria analysis tool for the effect of crop production system and the environment.
- Testing and validating the tool with additional experimental data, with design workshops for prototype cropping systems or directly with farmers.
Anticipating risk and better understanding of biocontrol methods.
Further work on the protection of pesticide users
Thanks to a study conducted on various farms in 2012 and 2013, ACTA has produced five sheets on the management of plant protection products during the ‘preparation’ phase. Until now, only general information has been supplied to farmers, technicians and trainers on this subject. The work involved dividing this phase into five sub-phases and detailing the collective and individual protection measures.
These sub-phases are:
- Removal from storage
- Preparation and product dosing
- Preparation of the mixture
- Cleaning of equipment
- Management of waste and effluent
The main findings of the programme focus on three issues which have emerged as being of paramount importance. These are:
- The functional organisation of locations is lacking as they are not specifically set aside for pesticides but poorly integrated in locations where other jobs are conducted.
- The impact of the physical structure of material and formulations which are not easy to use and leave operators open to great exposure.
- The lack of equipment to deal with incidents which may occur in the field (spare parts, protective equipment and hygiene-facilitating equipment).