The first leaflet in the From Science to Field series from ENDURE’s winter crops based cropping systems case study is now available, and details suggestions for furthering Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Danish cropping systems. It suggests not only two new crop sequences but the accompanying IPM practices which could help achieve significant cuts in pesticide use.
The winter crops based cropping systems case study (WCCS), like the maize based cropping systems case study, is taking advantage of the knowledge brought together in previous ENDURE activities and using it to tackle cropping systems rather than address a specific pest or crop. Thus the group is seeking to redesign current winter crops based cropping systems to reduce pesticide use.
The authors of IPM in Danish Winter Crops Based Cropping Systems note that winter crops are the principal component of most arable crop rotations in Denmark as they produce higher yields than spring grown crops. In particular, winter wheat, winter barley and winter oilseed rape are grown on Danish pig producing farms. However, pesticide use is higher than would be the case for spring sown crops, largely due to problems caused by annual grass weeds.
The authors, from Aarhus University and the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture (part of the Danish Agricultural Advisory Service), propose two crop sequences that balance the crop preferences of farmers with the introduction of spring sown break crops to impede severe pest probelems.
These, they suggest, should be supplemented by a range of ready-to-use IPM tactics to suppress pests. These tactics include, for example, inverting tillage to dilute weed problems and choosing varieties with high disease resistance.
In the future, other technologies and methods should become available to reduce still further the pesticide load, including precision technolgies for more targeted pesticide use, breeding programmes for varieties with greater disease resistance and trap cropping using flowering border zones.
The authors note that although the treatment frequency index (TFI) for Danish WCCS is already comparatively low at around 2.50 (three to four times lower than that in England and France, for example), the redesigned crop sequences accompanied by the ready-to-use IPM practices should lower this to between 1.68 and 1.78, depending on which crop sequence is chosen. Future IPM measures should reduce this still further to between 1.57 and 1.65. Thus the most far-reaching of their proposals could cut the TFI by some 37%.
The authors stress, though, that no economic analyses of these redesigned WCCS have yet been conducted. On-farm economics are, naturally, of great concern to Danish pig producers, who will be keen to ensure that any redesigned systems deliver sufficient supplies of forage grain of a high fodder value. The authors suggest their proposals can serve as a starting point for these economic analyses.