The European Commission has urged Member States to “significantly” improve their National Action Plans (NAP) to address the shortcomings identified in their review of progress on the implementation of the Pesticides Directive (2009/128/EC) and to “establish more precise and measurable targets”.
The review stresses the importance of Integrated Pest Management in delivering productive yet sustainable agriculture and says Member States should “develop clearly defined criteria so that they can assess systematically whether the eight principles of IPM are implemented, and take appropriate enforcement measures if this is not the case. Such tools could confirm that the intended outcome of IPM as specified in the Directive, a reduction of the dependency on pesticide use, is being achieved.”
These eight principles have been explored in-depth by ENDURE experts (you can read their work here
), but as a quick reminder they are:
• Prevention and suppression
• Non-chemical methods
• Pesticide selection
• Reduced pesticide use
• Anti-resistance strategies
The review notes: “In their national action plans, all Member States indicate they are taking a broad range of comprehensive measures to promote the implementation of IPM. In 24 Member States [no reply from the UK, no publicly funded systems in the Netherlands, Cyprus and Malta], there are publicly funded systems in place for forecasting, warning and early diagnosis for pest and disease control, and established economic thresholds for significant pests, to help farmers with decision making. IT tools are available for this purpose on official websites.
“Twelve Member States established networks of IPM demonstration farms to develop and disseminate IPM techniques for the local climatic conditions and crops grown. In addition, professional users have access to a wide range of IPM guidelines, drawn up by official services and organisations representing professional groups...Member States highlighted that official advisory services, which are independent of commercial interest, are very important for IPM implementation.”
The report has been based on various sources of information, including the Commission assessment of National Action Plans in 2015, two audited series on controls on plant protection products and the marketing and use of pesticides, a survey and questionnaire to all Member States in 2016 and fact-finding visits to six Member States (Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Poland and Sweden).
From these visits, the report notes: “In all six Member States visited, the authorities stated that in their view, some IPM techniques could be adopted on a more widespread basis, such as crop rotation, proper selection of seed and planting material and use of adequate cultivation techniques. A survey in Denmark corroborated this view by showing that while awareness of IPM techniques had increased among farmers, the actual level of implementation of these techniques had only increased marginally. An analysis carried out by the Netherlands showed that IPM principles are implemented by farmers generally, but none of the IPM general principles is used to their full potential.”
The report adds: “Member States have not converted the IPM principles into prescriptive and assessable criteria. They see IPM mainly as an education tool for farmers, and have no methods in place to assess compliance with IPM principles. While Member States take a range of measures to promote the use of IPM, this does not necessarily ensure that the relevant IPM techniques are actually implemented by users. Farmers are economic operators, and while IPM techniques are sustainable from a long-term perspective, IPM can mean a higher economic risk in the short-term. For example, it may be seen as preferable to grow maize or wheat in monoculture for economic reasons. However, this short term approach to land management comes at considerable risk of longer term cost, for example due to increasing populations of pests or weeds in monoculture. Ultimately, monoculture can cause loss of biodiversity, soil erosion and even desertification. As an example of a short-term approach, Romania granted emergency authorisations for using neonicotinoids as seed treatment in an undefined area of maize, without investigating the potential of crop rotation as an alternative.”