For a crop that originates in the Americas, maize has established an extremely important place in European agriculture, whether it be in terms of acreages, the frequency with which is it grown or its role in crop rotation systems.
To better understand the role maize plays in European agriculture and the potential Integrated Pest Management approaches that can reduce the pesticide load associated with its production, ENDURE’s Maize Based Cropping Systems (MBCS) Case Study has just produced its first leaflet in the From Science to Field series.
The leaflet, Maize Based Cropping Systems in Four European Regions: SWOT Analysis and IPM Considerations , has been produced by researchers in Denmark, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Spain and The Netherlands, and examines maize based systems in four regions to give a good overview of the situation across Europe.
The researchers note that maize itself covers an area of around 14-15 million hectares in the European Union - to put it in perspective, that’s the equivalent of five Belgiums - and while the pesticide load is different depending on the region, the list of potential pests includes weeds, aphids, soil insects, western corn rootworm, corn borers and pathogens such as Fusarium species.
The researchers have performed a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) of both continuous and rotated maize systems and also examine advanced and innovative IPM solutions for MBCS. Advanced pest control practices are defined as those which already exist but are not exploited and include measures such as optimising crops in the rotation system, efficient choice of hybrids and biological control. Innovative pest control practices are defined as those that could be implemented in the next five to 10 years such as Bt maize resistant to corn borers, precision spraying and improved decision support systems.
On advanced pest control practices, they conclude: “Comprehensive evaluation methods for IPM options and strategies for MBCS are still missing and should be developed. These methods should consider various (environmental, agronomic, technical, economic, etc.) aspects and be supported with policy aims at the regional level.
“Research on and implementation of a systems approach (i.e. at cropping or even farming level), according to different regions, should be encouraged and adopted at various levels.”
On innovative pest control practices, they conclude: “Applied multi-disciplinary research and farmer incentives to encourage the adoption of new IPM strategies in MBCS are essential.
“Regional policies that allow the use of GM maize in areas with heavy and difficult-to-control infestations could contribute to reducing the pesticide load.
“The improved links between stakeholders (i.e. research, industry, consultants, contractors and farmers) can be the basis for a better understanding and efficient use of innovative IPM strategies through mutual recognition and information sharing.”
Overall, they conclude that economic driving forces are the key factor in triggering farmers’ decisions, including those relating to crop protection issues. Because of this, they say, a multi-year approach - involving more diverse crops in rotation - is often not considered by farmers and may not even be available for implementation.
Thus, they conclude: “The adoption of more diversified crop rotations in MBCS is essential to develop ‘new’ systems that break the life cycle of certain pests. However, differences among regions should be considered.
“Regional policies to encourage sustainable systems based on crop rotation and advanced/innovative pest control strategies should be developed. These systems should have longer term benefits and be economically competitive with the current ones. The new Framework Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides can provide a solid basis for this purpose.”
If you found this article interesting, you may want to consult the following:
|Maize Case Study Guide Number 1: Non-chemical Control of Corn Borers Using Trichogramma or Bt Maize||
Maize Case Study Guide Number 1 [pdf - 119 MB]
|Maize Case Study Guide Number 2: Western Corn Rootworm in Europe: Integrated Pest Management is the Only Sustainable Solution||
Maize Case Study Guide Number 2 [pdf - 62064 kB]
|Maize Case Study Guide Number 3: Prevention Of Ear Rots Due To Fusarium Spp. On Maize And Mycotoxin Accumulation||
Maize Case Study Guide Number 3 [pdf - 56909 kB]
|Integrated Weed Management Case Study Guide Number 1: Maize Cropping With Less Herbicide||
Integrated Weed Management Case Study Guide 1 [pdf - 79367 kB]
|DR3.7, DR1.18 & DR1.19 Final report on the Maize Case Study||
ENDURE_DR3.7&DR1.18&DR1.19 [pdf - 92825 kB]
|Maize: Tackling Fusarium and mycotoxins||Click here|
|Learning IPM lessons from WCR in Hungary||Click here|
|Non-chemical solutions to beat corn borers||Click here|
|Maize: weed control with fewer chemicals||Click here|
|Catch up with maize case study||Click here|