SAGROPIA at the IPM Conference 2024 in Brussels

The SAGROPIA team, featuring members from the coordinators RTDS Association and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, recently represented the project at the IPM Conference 2024, titled “Holistic IPM: Reducing Pesticide Use.” This conference, held on 14. May in Brussels was organized by the IPM Decisions and IPMWorks, and marked the conclusion of Horizon 2020 sister projects.

This day-long conference at the popular Herman Teirlinck building, in the heart of Brussels,  attracted over 130 attendees from around 15 European countries, including representatives from various agricultural, plant health, and pest management organizations, research institutes, and industry actors.

To raise awareness about the recently launched SAGROPIA project, a promotional poster and project flyers were showcased and distributed respectively.

This new Horizon Europe project generated a lot of interest at this event, with participants from the integrated pest management (IPM) community keen to know more about its foreseen biological solutions for pesticide reduction and advanced IPM strategies for row crops like potato and sugar beet.

Dr. Günter Brader from AIT, with the SAGROPIA poster

SAGROPIA highlighted as a key project for “innovation in plant protection”

The conference was opened by Diego Canga Fano, Director of Quality Policy, Research & Innovation, and Outreach of the European Commission’s Directorate for Agriculture (DG AGRI). In his speech, Canga highlighted SAGROPIA (full video here), as one of the key projects, innovating plant protection in Europe. He emphasized the significance of initiatives like SAGROPIA in reducing our reliance on harmful chemical pesticides and fostering the development of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies that are both economically viable and environmentally sustainable.

Diego Canga Fano during his opening speech

IPM in action

Nick Paveley and Mark Ramsden from ADAS, a member of the project coordination of IPM Decisions, summarized the main outcomes of the IPM Decisions project. This was followed by an engaging presentation on scientific evidence of pest regulation through landscape diversity by Dr Sandrine Petit, from INRAE, France. She spoke about how ecological intensification of agriculture (EIA) aims to assure food security by harnessing ecosystem services. Available modeling tools and approaches to forecasting natural pest control were diverse and promising, but the integration of accurate descriptions of farming practices at the landscape scale remains a challenge. According to Petit, few studies integrated socio-economic aspects and provided approaches to guide and co-design the transition to future agroecological landscapes.

Nick Paveley from ADAS & Sandrine Petit, INRAE

Further into the event, speaking on quantifying the potential of reducing pesticides, Prof. Titto Catiff (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore), spoke on the framework for the implementation of IPM, based on the decision-making process, which involves four kinds of decisions.

  • Strategic
  • tactical on whether and when
  • on which control measures to be adopted
  • operational decisions.

Each type of decision plays a critical role in ensuring the effectiveness and sustainability of the IPM program. Strategic decisions are long-term and focus on the overall goals and direction of the pest management program. These decisions set the framework within which all other decisions are made. They often involve goal setting, policy development, resource allocation, research and development including risk management.

Tactical decisions are medium-term and focus on planning and scheduling activities to achieve strategic goals. These decisions involve determining whether and when to implement specific control measures. They include pest monitoring, intervention intervals, selection of control measures, etc.

The decisions on “which control measures to adopt” involve selecting specific pest control methods that will be used to manage pest populations. The choice of control measures is critical and is based on the following considerations. Effectiveness, environmental impact, economic viability, compatibility of control measures with other IPM strategies and agricultural practices, and long-term sustainability of such control measures.

Operational decisions are short-term and involve the day-to-day implementation of pest control measures. These decisions ensure that the chosen control strategies are executed effectively and efficiently. They include the application of control measures, continuously evaluating the effectiveness of control measures, and adjusting as required to improve results.

In an effective IPM program, these four types of decisions are interconnected and inform one another. Strategic decisions provide the foundation for tactical planning, which in turn guides the selection of control measures. Operational decisions ensure that the chosen control measures are implemented effectively. Continuous monitoring and evaluation feedback into the decision-making process, allowing for adaptive management and continuous improvement of the IPM program. This integrated approach ensures that pest management is sustainable, environmentally responsible, and economically viable.

Importance of decision support systems

Emphasizing the role of decision support systems (DSS), Dr. Stefane Carlesi (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) presented the effectiveness of rock powder for olive-fly control. The olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae) is the most serious pest for olives. The larvae (maggots) of the olive fruit fly feed inside the fruit, destroying the pulp and allowing the entry of secondary bacteria and fungi that lead to the rotting of the fruit. Feeding damage can cause premature fruit drops and reduce fruit quality for both table olive and olive oil production.

Carlesi mentioned that pest control might not be only non-chemical but highly DSS (decision support system). According to him, a healthy crop has reduced pesticide use and impact, a safer environment, enhanced biodiversity, avoidance of resistance and better pest control. Moreover, he spoke about the 5 pillars of holistic IPM.

  1. Agricultural landscapes with diverse semi-natural habitats
  2. Cropping system designed to decrease.
  3. Preferential use of non-chemical control options
  4. Optimized decision-making to avoid unnecessary treatments.
  5. Increased efficiency of treatments

Tito Catiff (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy) and Stefan Carlesi (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna)

After the coffee break, the session continued with the topic of holistic weed management strategy in arable farming by Johan Devriendt.  Devriendt is a farmer from Jura in the Flemish part of Belgium and maintains a farmland along with his family. He shared his personal experiences on weed management and how his farm is adapting to welcoming diverse crops. He also emphasized that good IPM strategies are required for crop health as well as for the health of his farm and family.

Genetics of Late Blight in Potatoes

Johan Devriendt, Farmer from Jura and Harm Brinks from Delphy

Harm Brinks, an agricultural specialist from Delphy International, presented genetics of Late Blight in potatoes. According to him, “the current crop protection strategy for potatoes is not durable”. Strategies based on fungicides alone and on host resistance alone are not long lasting. A fully integrated approach to pest and disease control is urgently needed. The genetic component in IPM is extremely valuable (but needs protection). For many pests, no resistant varieties are available yet.

Active ingredients (Fungicides) are needed to protect the host resistance genes. A fully integrated approach, including sanitation, host resistance, and low-input fungicides is the most durable option for the future. A significant reduction of pesticide input is possible. Support and acceptance in the value chain are necessary.

Evidence of IPM cost efficiency: results from our network

Dr. Mette Sønderskov from Aarhus University, presented the most discussed and debated topic on the cost-effectiveness of IPM. Sønderskov, discussed the methods of biocontrol measures like using bait with hormones, chemotropic/biological attraction, mating disruption or mating confusion, and enhancement of natural regulation. Biopesticides, derived from natural materials such as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals, offer a cost-effective alternative to conventional chemical pesticides. Their cost-effectiveness arises from several factors: reduced development and registration costs, minimal environmental impact, and the potential for sustainable pest management. As biopesticides are typically less harmful to beneficial insects and ecosystems, they can decrease the long-term costs associated with environmental cleanup and health care. Additionally, their use can mitigate the development of pest resistance, ensuring long-term efficacy and reducing the economic burden on agricultural systems. Thus, the integration of biopesticides into pest management programs can enhance both economic and environmental sustainability.

Mette Sønderskov on cost-effective IPM

IPM Demo Hubs

In the Peer-to-Peer learning session, Laure Triste and her team from IPM Works, presented stories of creating Demo Hubs for farmer groups within the project. In the video presented here, Laure emphasized the importance of first knowing the farmers, creating a safe space for them to interact and finally fostering a dialogue, leading to future communications and joint agenda development. Speaking on the key role of a Hub Coach, Triste emphasized providing individual advice, organizing demo events for the wider public, facilitating the hub as a group, also connecting the hub internationally.

Laure Triste on IPM Hubs

Speaking of the importance of Demo Hubs, Triste informed that it is very important to show that IPM strategies work on the ground, for which the following points need to be checked.

  • Relate to potential motivations for farmers to adopt IPM practices (technical, Economic, Market, Regulation)
  • Adapt the topic and location for the audience.
  • Take into account the farming calendar (crop seasons).
  • Show success stories and challenges.
  • Facilitate interaction and reflection.

Workshop on Biological Control in Integrated Pest Management

The workshop was conducted by Karel Bolkmans, from the BioFirst group. Also, it featured experiences on IPM in private farms from the Belgian farmer and vine grower Christian Balduyck of the Glabais vineyard in the Walloon Brabant province in Belgium.

Discussing biocontrol-based IPM, Bolkmans said that prevention, monitoring, and suppression are the three important points. Biological control, or biocontrol, is a vital component of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies that aim to manage pest populations using natural enemies. The growing concern over pesticide resistance, pesticide residue, and the environmental impact of chemical controls has led to increased interest in biocontrol methods. In the workshop, the different types of biocontrol and their benefits were explored briefly:

  • Classical Biological control: Introduction of ecologically adapted natural enemies from the area of origin.
  • Conservative Biological Control and Conservation of natural enemies in the agroecosystem by using cultural practices or habitat management to enhance their activities and by eliminating non-selective pesticide sprays.
  • Augmentative biological control involves the release of mass-reared natural enemies to manage pest populations. There are two primary methods:
  1. Seasonal Inoculative Biological Control: Natural enemies are released periodically to establish a population that controls pests over a season.
  2. Inundative Biological Control: Large numbers of natural enemies are released to quickly reduce pest populations.

The main benefits of biological control are:

  • Reduction in Pesticide Use: By utilizing biological control, the reliance on chemical pesticides is significantly reduced.
  • Pesticide Resistance: Biological control helps mitigate issues related to pests developing resistance to chemical pesticides.
  • Pesticide Reregistration and Residue Requirements: Using biological control can simplify compliance with pesticide reregistration and reduce concerns about chemical residues on crops.

Effectiveness and Affordability of Biocontrol-Based IPM

The workshop participants agreed that the effectiveness of biocontrol methods has been well-documented. Advanced large-scale production technologies have made biocontrol affordable for use in row crops, making it a viable option for many agricultural practices. However, workshop participants stated that the availability of modern biopesticides is limited for European farmers compared to other parts of the world, due to the very slow registration process.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) that incorporates biocontrol strategies offers proven effectiveness and affordability, particularly for row crops due to advanced production technologies. The benefits of biocontrol outlined were:

  • Proven Effectiveness: Numerous studies have demonstrated the successful implementation of biocontrol in managing pest populations.
  • Affordability: Large-scale production technologies make biocontrol solutions cost-effective for farmers.
  • Regulatory Challenges: However, the availability of modern biopesticides remains limited for European farmers compared to other regions, primarily due to the slow registration process.

Biocontrol methods as a suitable alternative to traditional chemical pesticides

The workshop concluded that biocontrol methods, including classical, conservative, and augmentative biological control, offer sustainable, effective, and environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional chemical pesticides. These strategies not only help reduce pesticide use and mitigate resistance but also support biodiversity and ecosystem health. As regulatory processes evolve and more biocontrol products become available, the adoption of biocontrol-based IPM will continue to grow, benefiting farmers and the environment alike.

Karel Bolkmans on Biocontrol Based IPM

Takeaway Message: Charting a sustainable path and  commitment to innovative IPM Strategies

The workshop concluded that biocontrol methods, including classical, conservative, and augmentative biological control, offer sustainable, effective, and environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional chemical pesticides. These strategies not only help reduce pesticide use and mitigate resistance but also support biodiversity and ecosystem health. As regulatory processes evolve and more biocontrol products become available, the adoption of biocontrol-based IPM will continue to grow, benefiting farmers and the environment alike.

Closing remarks by Urban Hrovatič, SEASN

The conference underscored that SAGROPIA can gain valuable insights from similar projects and the holistic IPM approaches showcased in this platform. As reiterated by Mr. Canga at the very beginning, SAGROPIA and other IPM-focused projects are vital for future advancements in pest management. SAGROPIA is committed to developing new and innovative IPM strategies, and the conference provided crucial information to guide these efforts. By focusing on maintaining the ecological balance and minimizing the reliance on chemical interventions, SAGROPIA aims to reduce environmental and health risks while promoting long-term sustainability and economic applicability in agricultural practices.

Reneema Hazarika
Communication and Dissemination Manager
Picture credits @RTDS (For more images from the conference please visit the SAGROPIA photo gallery

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From Kitchen Staple to Global Crisis: Unveiling Potato Blight

Potatoes have indeed been a staple food in many cultures for centuries, earning them the title of the “king of vegetables” worldwide. Their versatility allows them to be prepared in countless ways, from mashed and roasted to fried and baked, making them a favorite ingredient in a wide variety of dishes. Besides being nutrient-rich, whether as a side dish, a main course, or even a snack, potatoes have certainly earned their place as a beloved food choice for many people.

While peeling a potato in your kitchen, you may observe a dark purple or black discoloration on or beneath the peel. Sometimes, we simply opt to discard the discolored section and proceed to cook the rest.

But do we think what triggers this phenomenon? It’s none other than the blight disease affecting potatoes. This affliction remains a significant concern for potato farmers worldwide, as it can devastate acres of potato fields, resulting in major financial losses for businesses involved in potato cultivation.

It is a hemibiotrophic pathogen requiring living plant tissue to survive and complete its life cycle.

SAGROPIA prioritizes addressing potato blight, recognizing the need for sustainable solutions beyond chemical fertilizers. As part of this effort, Wageningen Research in the Netherlands, a key partner in the project, will evaluate bio fungicides in trials targeting early/late blight of potatoes. By reducing dependence on chemical treatments, SAGROPIA aims to promote ecologically sound agricultural practices, ensuring the production of healthy and safe potatoes while addressing broader environmental concerns associated with intensive farming.

This group of fungi is the most destructive of plant pathogens. Blight infects both potatoes and tomatoes. In potatoes, blight first attacks the foliage and when not managed on time, gradually passes into the tubers.


The historical famine and Blight

Irish Famine Memorial, Dublin, Ireland (image @Shutterstock)

Once upon a time, this black or purple coloration found in potatoes, now recognized as a fungal disease called blight, played a pivotal role in the Irish famine of 1845-49, devastating potato crops across Ireland. Blight hindered the proper growth of potato plants, which, for most of the Irish population at the time, constituted their primary food source, leaving them with scant alternatives for sustenance. Termed as the Great Hunger (An Gorta Mor in Irish), this famine resulted in a significant population decline of 2-3 million people, with many succumbing to illness or starvation as a direct consequence of the blight-induced potato crop failures.

Blight and Climate Change

In the context of climate change, it’s important to consider the impact on pathogen-host relationships in fungal infections like blight. Changes in climatic patterns can directly affect these relationships, particularly through alterations in habitat temperatures. As temperatures rise, the reproductive models and stress tolerances of both hosts and pathogens may be affected.

The thermal mismatch theory suggests that the fitness of hosts and pathogens often peaks at different temperatures, which could influence the dynamics of infection. Furthermore, pathogen infections involve various biological and biochemical processes, each regulated by enzymes with specific temperature preferences. Therefore, shifts in temperature due to climate change can potentially disrupt these processes, altering the spread and severity of bacterial blight and similar diseases.

Early blight is common and found widely in North America. This fungal disease in potatoes is caused by strains of Alternaria solani and A. alternata causing tissues to rot. Although this pathogen can most likely spread in any moderate to warm weather (15 °C to 27 °C), temperatures in-between 28 °C to 30°C are its optimum temperature range. These temperatures, together with moisture and relative humidity greater than 90%, can add to its speed in proliferation. Infection occurs when spores of the fungus encounter susceptible leaves and sufficient free moisture is present. Spore germination and infection are favored by warm weather and wet conditions from dew, rain, or sprinkler irrigation. Alternately, wet and dry periods with relatively dry, windy conditions favor spore dispersal and disease spread. Tubers can be infected as they are lifted through the soil at harvest. If sufficient moisture is present, spores germinate and infect the tubers.

Scorched leaf and infected tuber @Shutterstock

The causal pathogen Phytophthora infestans of Late blight is a winter eukaryotic microorganism that prefers moist and cold environments. Above 15°C, sporangia directly invade the host, but it takes a long time. The hyphae invade into the host body and spread fastest at 20~23°C, and the symptoms are the most obvious in winter. Therefore, early planted potatoes (for example in the Autumn season) generally escape the attack of late blight because of the relatively warmer climate. Under favorable climatic conditions, even one single tuber infected with the pathogen can be enough to create a severe epidemic situation.

Living with the Pathogen

Significant strides have been achieved in the management of blight since its infamous appearance in the 1800s. Improved agronomic practices, enhanced detection, and prediction systems, and—most importantly—the extensive use of effective chemical pesticides. Although present management strategies can successfully prevent catastrophic potato blight outbreaks, the environmental and economic costs associated with the overuse of these high-chemical pesticides are growing more unsustainable, due to changes in the global climate and rising consumer demand for organic food sources. Thus, it will be crucial to develop sustainable solutions to combat diseases like blight. These kinds of integrated and innovative strategies are essential to bringing new technological advances in pathogen research into a new era of effective integrated pest management plans for global sustainable potato farming.

Reneema Hazarika
Communication and Dissemination Manager

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Nourishing Europe: Unveiling the European Farm to Fork Strategy and exploring Candidates for Substitution (CfS) and Plant Protection Products

The EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy

The European Commission’s Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy of 2020, a key element of the EU Green Deal, was designed to be a transformative journey to reshape food systems in the face of global crises like climate change, resource scarcity, and a growing world population. A comprehensive plan that sought to make fair, healthy, and eco-friendly food systems in Europe, the strategy recognizes that food production, distribution, consumption, and management are deeply interconnected. By setting targets for reducing the use of pesticides, antibiotics, and fertilizers, as well as promoting organic farming practices, the F2F Strategy aims to mitigate any environmental impact on agriculture.

One of the key components of the F2F Strategy is to identify and promote Candidates for Substitution (CfS) to address the challenges associated with traditional agricultural practices. The goal is to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030. This involves encouraging the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM), promoting biological control methods, and investing in R&I to develop alternative pest control strategies. By doing so, the EU aims to protect biodiversity, reduce water, and soil pollution, and ensure a healthier environment for both consumers and producers.

What are candidates for substitution (CfS)?

The concept of Candidates for Substitution (CfS) plays a pivotal role in the F2F Strategy. CfS are identified as substances or practices that can replace hazardous chemicals, including pesticides and fertilizers, with safer and more sustainable alternatives. This approach aligns with the EU’s commitment to fostering innovation, endorsing circular economy principles, and safeguarding human health and the environment.

Pesticides are one of the key areas of focus for substitution. The EU aims to phase out and substitute the most harmful pesticides and promote the use of alternative methods, such as biopesticides and precision farming techniques. This shift not only protects ecosystems but also reduces the risk of pesticide residues in food.

How successful is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?

IPM is a comprehensive approach aimed at significantly reducing the reliance on conventional pesticides in agricultural practices. The primary goal is to encourage the adoption of sustainable and environmentally friendly pest control strategies. Since 2014, IPM has been mandated for farmers within the EU, as outlined in Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides. This directive set the stage for the implementation of IPM as a legal requirement, emphasizing the need for a holistic and integrated approach to pest control.

However, the execution of IPM has faced considerable challenges, which has made it difficult to achieve its objectives. One critical issue lies in the absence of clear targets, measures, and timetables to guide farmers in the implementation of IPM practices. Without specific and measurable goals, farmers may struggle to understand the expectations and lack the necessary guidance to transition effectively from traditional chemical pesticide use to integrated pest management strategies.

The lack of a well-defined framework has hindered the market availability of biological solutions, which are a key component of IPM. While the intention was to stimulate the use of alternative, less harmful methods, the absence of clear directives has led to a slow adoption of these biological solutions. In essence, IPM has not yet lived up to its potential. This stems from the challenge of translating its theoretical framework into practical, actionable steps for farmers, resulting in a gap between intention and implementation.

Plant protection products (PPPs)
vs. Pesticides

PPPs specifically fall under the umbrella of pesticides and serve the primary purpose of safeguarding crops or other beneficial plants. Widely employed in agriculture, these products also find applications in forestry, horticulture, amenity areas, and domestic gardens. A plant protection product typically contains at least one active substance. An active substance has various functions, ranging from protecting plants or plant products against pests and diseases before or after harvest, influencing the life processes of plants (excluding nutrients), preserving plant products, to destroying or preventing the growth of undesired plants or plant parts. Additionally, these products may incorporate other components like safeners and synergists. The authorization and oversight of plant protection products within the EU are carried out by individual Member States, which are responsible for ensuring compliance with EU regulations in their respective territories.

The distinction between pesticides and PPPs lies in their scope and application. Pesticides serve as a broad category encompassing substances designed to prevent, control, or eliminate harmful organisms (‘pests’) and diseases. This includes a wide range of formulations such as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, acaricides, nematicides, molluscicides, growth regulators, repellents, rodenticides, and biocides. Pesticides, therefore, have a comprehensive application that extends beyond plant protection to include various non-plant or non-crop uses, such as controlling pests in households, industrial settings, or other environments.

An Active Substance refers to any chemical, plant extract, pheromone, or micro-organism (including viruses) that exhibits effects on ‘pests’ or on plants, plant parts, or plant products. In the European Union, prior to being employed in a plant protection product, an active substance must receive approval from the European Commission. The approval process involves a thorough assessment and peer-review conducted by Member States and the European Food Safety Authority, leading to a decision on whether the substance is approved for use.

On the other hand, plant protection products (PPPs) represent a specific subset of pesticides, primarily intended for safeguarding crops or beneficial plants. While PPPs include many of the same formulations as pesticides, they are tailored for use in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, amenity areas, and home gardens. PPPs contain at least one active substance and serve functions like protecting plants against pests and diseases, influencing plant life processes, preserving plant products, or preventing the growth of undesirable plants or plant parts.

The term ‘pesticide’ is often used interchangeably with ‘plant protection product,’ but it’s important to recognize that pesticide is the broader term, covering not only plant-related applications but also non-plant uses like biocides in various contexts.

Next steps for the EU’s F2F Strategy

While the F2F Strategy and the promotion of CfS represent significant strides towards a more sustainable and resilient food system, challenges persist. Resistance to change, economic considerations, and the need for extensive research and development in alternative practices pose hurdles to swift implementation.

The effective enforcement of the Sustainable Use of PPPs Regulation (SUR) is vital for the realization of the objectives outlined in the EU’s F2F and Biodiversity Strategies, along with the Zero Pollution Action Plan. It could also play a pivotal role in fulfilling the pesticide reduction goals established in the EU Green Deal. The revision of the Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (SUD) should result in a robust reform of the SUR, representing a significant stride towards creating an environment free from harmful chemicals. This reform could be crucial for safeguarding the environment, fostering resilient farming systems, enhancing food production, and preparing for present and future challenges of climate change, food security and human health.

The growing apprehensions of the European Commission are accentuated by the recent surge in protests across Europe, driven mainly by discontent arising from economic difficulties, regulatory policies, and environmental initiatives. Within the European Union, farmers are facing challenges such as rising energy, fertilizer, and transport costs, compounded by the repercussions of Russia’s conflict in Ukraine. Governments, aiming to alleviate the impact of inflation-driven food price increases on consumers, have strained relations with farmers in the process. Eurostat data reveals a significant decline in agricultural product prices, averaging nearly 9% between the third quarter of 2022 and the corresponding period in 2023, intensifying the financial hardships for farmers.

The protests are further complicated by regional issues, such as France’s decision to phase out a tax break for farmers on diesel fuel and concerns about unfair competition due to cheap imports. Additionally, the effects of climate change, characterized by extreme weather events, pose additional hurdles to production. The European Green Deal, with its ambitious environmental goals, has become a focal point of tension, with farmers advocating for delays in regulations and resisting measures like carbon taxes, pesticide bans, and nitrogen emission restrictions. This has impeded the implementation of the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy, designed to promote sustainable farming, as each European country, including Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland, grapples with its distinct set of resource concerns. This complex landscape of challenges contributes to the widespread nature of the chaos whilst threatening to sway the F2F Strategy.

The EU Commission still promises validity of the F2F policy objectives along with the modalities to achieve them being under constant review.

The F2F, with its focus on CfS, exemplifies the EU’s commitment to building a resilient and sustainable food system. By addressing the environmental and health challenges associated with the use of chemical pesticides, the strategy aims to strike a balance between feeding a growing population and preserving the planet for future generations. The EU must salvage what is left of the F2F strategy while meeting the demands of its farmers. If it succeeds in this undertaking, it could emerge as a global front runner in leading a major shift towards more sustainable and future-proof food systems.

How does SAGROPIA contribute to the F2F Strategy?

The F2F Strategy and SUR aims safe and secure food systems and reduced use of chemical pesticide reduction in Europe. The Horizon Europe project SAGROPIA is dedicated to validating this objective with the potential for substituting specific active substances outlined in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, identified as CfS. This will be achieved by showcasing the effective utilization of alternative, predominantly low-risk pesticides. With a vision to revolutionize European agriculture, the project focuses on the development of 13 biobased and low-risk pesticides tailored for key “candidates for substitution” (CfS), specifically targeting potato and sugar-beet crops. SAGROPIA advocates for integrated pest management as part of sustainable practices, aiming to achieve a substantial 50% reduction in the utilization of chemical pesticides. Emphasizing sustainability as a top priority, the initiative strives to minimize adverse impacts on natural resources and the environment.

Reneema Hazarika
Communication and Dissemination Manager

If you’d like to stay up to date on SAGROPIA ‘s innovative IPM solutions developed within the project, please sign up for our Newsletter . You can also follow us on Linkedin , YouTube and  Twitter

SAGROPIA Project Kick-Off Meeting

The SAGROPIA project kick-off meeting, organized by the RTDS Association (Project Coordinator) and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology (Project Scientific Coordinator), was held from January 22nd to 24th, 2024 at the AIT Campus in Vienna. Representatives from 10 SAGROPIA partners from across Europe gathered to discuss and strategize the project’s initiation. Here are some images from the meeting.