ENDURE’s Case Studies aim to identify and assess solutions that will enable pesticide use to be optimised and reduced and when it comes to wheat, Danish experience is proving invaluable, reports Janne Hansen.
Using plant varieties that are resistant to fungal diseases and adjusting fungicide dosages to suit the actual requirements are some of the ways pesticide use can be reduced, according to Danish experience. And this experience is being shared with scientists across Europe as part of ENDURE's Case Study examining the most important fungal diseases in winter wheat.
"Denmark is known for its low use of pesticides," says Lise Nistrup Jorgensen, a senior scientist at the University of Aarhus's Faculty of Agricultural Sciences who is leading the project. "We can share our experience and knowledge about this with other countries in the EU."
Lise, who works in the Department of Integrated Pest Management, and other scientists are are preparing an overview of damage thresholds, the extent of yield loss due to infections with various diseases, and how the diseases can be prevented and treated. The information gathered will be shared with farmers, agricultural advisors and other interested parties. "Our hope is that farmers can learn from each other so that we can find out what works out well when you want to become less dependent on fungicides without negatively affecting the yields," she adds.
One of the methods of reducing pesticide use is to grow varieties that are disease resistant. Another important element is using reduced and adjusted fungicide dosages depending on which fungal disease you are up against.
"Danish farmers have a low level of pesticide use, including in wheat," she explains. "One of the reasons is that to a great degree they grow varieties that are resistant to the most important diseases. Danish farmers are also good at using reduced dosages. Over the years, Danish farmers have thus reduced their use of fungicides in wheat by more than 50 per cent without a negative effect on yields."
Not all experiences from Denmark can be transferred directly to other countries because of differences in climate and diseases. In England, for example, farmers spray more because the wet climate can result in serious attacks of the disease septoria. And in France heat is the culprit as diseases such as brown rust can be even more serious in areas with a warm climate.
However, "fungi do not respect international borders," notes Lise. "There is therefore good reasoning in establishing common descriptions, using each other's experience and avoiding doing the same work twice. There is good experience with this from similar projects such as controlling potato blight."
To read the full story, visit the University of Aarhus website.