Major research to cut pesticide use
SCIENTISTS at the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) are involved in a major European project to reduce pesticide residues on crops and the types of agro-chemicals available to farmers.
The SCRI is one of the partners in the EU PURE project (Pesticide Use-and-risk Reduction in European farming systems with Integrated Pest Management) which will develop integrated pest and disease management techniques for major EU crops.
Integrated pest and disease management (IPDM) integrates several strategies to reduce weeds, insect pests and diseases while minimising the use of pesticide treatments.
PURE is the biggest agricultural project funded by the EU under the Framework 7 programme with a total value of €12 million. As part of the project SCRI will receive £600,000 funding over four years which will create several new jobs.
The main crops researched will be wheat, maize, field vegetables (brassicas), pome fruits (for example, apples and pears), grapevines and ‘protected’ vegetables grown under polytunnels. The project consortium includes a range of top research and industry partners from across Europe.
SCRI will contribute to several areas of work covering conservation of beneficial insects, landscape engineering, and also novel ways to increase plant defences using elicitors. SCRI will also be a test site for new IPDM strategies in wheat and brassica production systems.
Dr Graham Begg, of SCRI’s Environment Plant Interactions programme, who will lead research into the role of ecological engineering in IPDM, said, “With the reduction in available pesticides, growers will have to look to different and more innovative methods of managing crops and the PURE project will support that move.”
Dr Nick Birch, who co-ordinates SCRI’s input said the aims of the project were also closely linked to research funded by the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Research and Analysis Directorate that focuses on more sustainable agriculture, food security and the impacts of environmental change.”