EU    |   Weeds   

Integrated weed management is the way to go for sustainable and resilient agriculture. A new Horizon 2020 project will support and promote its implementation in Europe, reports Janne Hansen, from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University, Denmark.

Weed management in Europe will become more environmentally friendly if the concept of Integrated Weed Management (IWM) takes better hold on European farms – and that is the goal of a new Horizon 2020 project coordinated by professor Per Kudsk of Aarhus University. The five-year project, which has been granted €6.6m, aims to support and promote IWM in Europe.

“The project aims to demonstrate that IWM supports more sustainable cropping systems that are resilient to external impacts and do not jeopardise profitability or the steady supply of food, feed and biomaterials,” says professor Per Kudsk from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University.

The project consortium consists of 37 partners from eight different European countries and includes 11 leading universities and research institutes within the area of weed management, 14 SMEs and industrial partners, and 12 advisory services and end user organisations.

Focus on four scenarios

The project will develop, test and assess management strategies delivered across whole cropping systems for four contrasting management scenarios representing typical crops in Europe. “By adopting this categorical approach we can establish principles and develop IWM strategies that can be applied beyond the case studies that the project will focus on,” says Per Kudsk. The four scenarios that the project will focus on are:

  • Annually drilled crops in narrow rows (for example, small grain cereals and oilseed rape)
  • Annually drilled crops in wide rows (for example, maize, sunflowers and field vegetables)
  • Perennial herbaceous crops (for example, grasslands, alfalfa and red clover)
  • Perennial woody crops (for example, pome fruits, citrus fruits and olives)
  • Finally, the project will be seeking to overcome barriers and spread the word

The project will review current socio-economic and agronomic barriers to the uptake of IWM in Europe and develop and optimise novel alternative weed control methods. On this basis, the project will create a toolbox of validated IWM tools. The project will also design, demonstrate and assess the performance and environmental and economic sustainability of context-specific IWM strategies for the various management scenarios that address the needs and concerns of end users and the public at large.

A final output of the project will be to make the results available to end users via online information, farmer field days, educational programmes, dissemination tools and knowledge exchange with rural development operational groups dealing with IWM issues.

National clusters at the core

National clusters will be established in each of the participating countries. The concept of national clusters is a novel feature of the project. The national clusters are networks consisting of farmer organisations, advisory services, SMEs and research institutes. They will be responsible for designing, on-farm testing, and conducting the preliminary validation of the IWM strategies studied in their country.

“The national concept cluster originates from experience and observations from previous European and national crop protection programmes that true innovation only happens if all actors, i.e. end users, research, extension, and technology providers, work closely together and innovative solutions are customized to local conditions,” says Per Kudsk.

Facts about IWMPRAISE:

  • The project has been granted €6.6m from the EU’s Horizon 2020 scheme.
  • The total budget is approximately €7.1m.
  • The project will run for five years from June, 2017.
  • The project consortium consists of 37 partners from eight different European countries.
  • The partners include 11 leading universities and research institutes within the area of weed management, 14 SMEs and industrial partners, and 12 advisory services and end user organisations.

Source: Aarhus University

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