The second newsletter from the EUCLID project (Europe China Lever for IPM Demonstration) is now available, following hot on the heels of EUCLID’s annual meeting and providing an update from the four-year project’s activities.
EUCLID’s research is aiming to develop “more sustainable pest management methods in Europe and China in order to reduce the negative effects of pesticides on human health and the environment, to reduce economic losses in agriculture, and to provide scientific support to EU and China policies”. Because of their economic importance, it has a particular focus on tomatoes, leaf vegetables and grapes, and is taking a holistic view of the entire food chain from agriculture through to the final consumer.
The newsletter reports “significant progress” towards the project’s goals. Among these achievements are the work of the teams addressing the optimisation of current pest management methods, with examples including the creation of a list of selected leafy vegetable varieties and Biocontrol Agents (BCAs) against soil-borne pathogens, and the development of a pilot mass rearing system for Dicyphus spp., which it describes as a “promising BCA group against multiple pests in vegetables”.
The development of innovative pest management approaches has also progressed, says the newsletter, including a team that has “demonstrated under laboratory conditions that the Dicyphus spp., despite being omnivorous predators, may not inflict injuries to tomato plants when used as BCA.”
Joint work with Chinese partners on the assessment of potential novel IPM packages has included the selection of key indicators for evaluating the methods developed in other teams in terms of their economic, environmental and social feasibility. The development of a Decision Support System (DSS) is also under way and is designed to provide a tool to help final users (trainers, farmers, researchers etc) to find the best IPM methods adapted to their actual cropping case.
The newsletter reports growing Chinese involvement in the project, which is expected to be increased still further over the coming year with the release of funds from the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China (MOST).
Alongside a more in-depth review of the work on indicators and an examination of the work of the project’s French partners in the country’s new National Action Plan (ECOPHYTO ll), which reconfirms the ambition to halve pesticide use over the course of a decade, there is a report on the work conducted by project partner AgriNewTech. This is interesting as it shows the possibilities for using good sources of organic matter, such as compost, to control soil-borne diseases.
The newsletter reports: “Composts can be used for improving crop production, soil health, nutrient levels, organic matter, and plant growth but they can also be used for the suppression of disease caused by soil-borne plant pathogens. The disease suppressiveness may be variable according to compost quality and can be guaranteed when composts are colonised by specific antagonists during composting.”
It adds: “AgriNewTech has produced different suppressive composts and they are tested in Italy and France on tomato and lettuce (two crops of analysis in EUCLID) against soil-borne diseases ... ‘ANT’s Compost V’ showed to control Fusarium wilt of tomato and to have a higher enzymatic activity compared to peat and to soil.”
In its work on innovative pest management approaches, AgriNewTech is fortifying composts with selected microorganisms to improve their efficacy on the control of plant pathogens. Over the coming months testing will include testing the effects of compost on foliar pathogens and transferring this IPM practice to farmers.
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