Denmark is reshaping its agricultural and environmental policies changing the way pesticides will be used in the country. It is introducing a new national target based on environmental impact, a new tax on pesticides and a raft of measures to support the greater use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), including subsidised advice on IPM.
In the first of a new series written by ENDURE members involved with the agricultural advisory sector, Jens Erik Jensen and Rolf Thostrup Poulsen of the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture, a partner in the Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, examine the status of IPM implementation and the National Action Plan in Denmark.
In this article we are concentrating on Denmark’s ‘Green Growth’ programme (in Danish: ‘Grøn Vækst’), an ambitious and long-term plan introduced by the Danish government. Green Growth defines environmental and nature policies and the agricultural industry’s growth conditions until 2020, in other words it covers not only pesticide use.
The plan was published in 2009, with the purpose of ensuring that a high level of environmental, nature and climate protection goes hand in hand with modern and competitive agriculture and food industries. In total, the government is investing 13.5 billion DKK (around €1.8 billion) in the plan until 2015.
The plan notes that over the duration of Green Growth there should be a “substantial reduction in the harmful effects of pesticides on human beings, animals and nature” (point 2.2). In order to reach this goal, a number of initiatives are and will be launched by the ministries involved. Below, the most important points are explored.
New ‘pesticide impact index’ to replace Treatment Frequency Index (TFI)
Compared to the TFI, this index also includes non-sprayed areas and calculations on the pesticide burden on health and the environment. The index should be reduced to 1.4 by 2013, but it has not yet been clearly defined what 1.4 means.
Status in May 2011: Currently, the index is under development. In practice this means, that the TFI is currently still being used.
New pesticide tax
A restructured pesticide tax is designed to place the highest tax on the potentially most harmful products. The level of the tax will consist of four components:
A key element of the tax is that smaller or specialised crops, such as potatoes and lettuce, should not be so heavily taxed that their production will be outsourced. This requirement seems to be a challenge.
The new taxes are expected to generate extra revenue of 150 million DKK (around €20 million) compared to the present taxes. The revenue will be returned to the agricultural sector via reduced taxes on land. This means that the average price for crop protection will increase by €10 per hectare.
Status in May 2011: Initially, the law on the restructured pesticide tax was due to be submitted in the autumn of 2009. So far, this has not happened and the latest reports suggest that the tax will, at the earliest, be implemented on January 1st 2012.
Guidelines and dedicated advice for IPM in arable farming, horticulture and fruit
The framework includes the development of crop-specific guidelines, monitoring and warning systems, seven demonstration farms, establishment of a points system for ranking and substitution of pesticides, as well as increased efforts targeting the approval of alternative plant protection products.
Status in May 2011: The Ministry of the Environment has so far initiated two IPM projects in relation to this initiative:
Five-fold increase in permanent buffer zones (no spraying, fertiliser or cultivation)
Permanent buffer zones along watercourses and lakes in which no spraying, fertiliser use or cultivation is allowed, are being broadened from two to 10 metres. The enlarged buffer zones will cover an area of 50,000 hectares. The purpose is to minimise run-off and leaching of pesticides and plant nutrients from fields. The existing variable buffer zones for pesticides will be maintained; these range in size from two to 50 metres depending on the pesticide in question.
Status in May 2011: The proposal has been launched, but due to political discussions about the reduction of fertiliser use, the fate of this law is currently unclear.
Increased spray-free buffer zones around public water supply facilities
Such buffer zones are being increased from 10 to 25 metres to protect the quality of public water.
Status in May 2011: The proposal has been launched and discussions are currently ongoing regarding how farmers should be compensated.
For a complete description of the Green Growth agreement, visit this link (in English): Green Growth.
More about Danish IPM Projects
The Knowledge Centre for Agriculture, a partner in the Danish Agricultural Advisory Service, has been chosen as project leader for the two IPM projects mentioned above. In connection with these two projects, a Danish IPM site has been created: www.danskipm.dk.
Besides information about the projects, this is also the place to find concrete examples of IPM in Denmark. Every three months, a new theme or campaign is being presented. Topics already covered include inter-row cultivation and diseases in arable crops. Each theme is supported by a number of initiatives to help farmers learn more, for example, online tests, inspirational sheets etc. All elements are connected to the IPM toolbox.
To increase the focus on IPM in practice, it was decided to establish seven demonstration farms. The project was initiated in 2010 and runs until 2015. In the autumn of 2010, seven farms representative of Danish agriculture were chosen (five concerned with arable crops and two with horticulture and fruits) from a large number of applicants. From 2011, the goal is to try various IPM elements on-farm.
Each farm has a main IPM theme, based on the needs and wishes of the farmer (for example, weed mapping and other monitoring systems, advanced spraying techniques, crop rotation and grass weeds). For every farm, there is a local adviser who offers focused advice on all the IPM tools being used daily.
There is also a specialised adviser from the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture connected to each farm (usually a crop protection specialist). It is important to emphasise that although the farmer receives economic support for being a host, it is still the farmer who makes the decisions on the farm.
As hosts, farmers are obliged to hold at least four events on the farm every year in order to inform other farmers, advisers, policy makers, members of the public and other stakeholders about IPM in practice.
Dedicated IPM advice
The second project concerns focused advice for Danish farmers. In this project, farmers can receive heavily subsidised advice on IPM. Up to 80 % of the costs of advice can be covered by the programme. Currently, 450 farmers have signed up for the project, which includes six meetings over two years (12 advisory hours on average), depending on farm size. If there are special challenges on a farm, the project may be extended by one year.
The purpose of the focused IPM advice is to place the spotlight on the concrete crop protection challenges faced by farmers. The result of the advice is expected to reduce dependence on chemical crop protection.
A second and third opportunity to sign up for subsidised IPM advice will be available in 2012 and 2014, meaning that a total of 1,350 farmers will receive advice on IPM. The advice is supplied by local agricultural advisers who must participate in IPM courses run by the Knowledge Centre for Agriculture.
This article first appeared in the second ENDURE Network of Advisers Newsletter. Download your copy here: