Deadline voor aanmelding voor onderstaande Focus Groepen: 10 september 2018
Focus Group: 'Non-chemical weed management in arable cropping systems'
First meeting: 21-22 November 2018
Weeds compete with crops for water, nutrients and sunlight. Some weeds can also be a host for pests and diseases that can be transmitted to the crops. As weeds therefore threaten crop yield and quality, farmers fight against them and the most common weed management practice is the use of herbicides. Agriculture in the EU and worldwide has become increasingly dependent on the use of herbicides and of pesticides in general, which has helped boost agricultural yield and food production. At the same time, pesticides can have effects on the environment, non-target organisms and animal and human health. Therefore, EU and Member State policies seek to reduce reliance on pesticides by designing and implementing more integrated approaches for pest management, while at the same time safeguarding the competitiveness of agriculture in the EU.
Developing and/or promoting non-chemical weed management techniques could contribute to reducing the risks linked to the use of pesticides. These management techniques range from preventive to curative strategies (e.g. crop rotation, cropping systems, tillage, mechanical weed control, use of alternatives to critical active substances) and cover both the organic and the conventional sectors. Also, assessing current zero-tolerance weed strategies and perceptions of risks at medium-long term through adapted decision support tools could help rationalise and limit the use of herbicides.
Focus Group: 'Pests and diseases of the olive tree'
First meeting: 28-29 November 2018
Over 750 million olive trees are cultivated worldwide, 95% of which are in the Mediterranean region. Most of the global olive production comes from Southern Europe, North Africa and the Near East. In the EU, olive trees are grown in Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, France, Cyprus, Slovenia, Croatia and Malta and the structure of production is often fragmented (small/medium-sized holdings).
Olive production varies greatly and depends on the alternate bearing cycle of the olive tree (a good harvest followed by a poor one), farming methods (use of irrigation), olive varieties, the soil and climate conditions. Olive trees can grow in poor, stony soil where it would be difficult to grow other crops. Consequently, they play an important environmental role (fixing soils, biodiversity). The peak in activity occurs in Autumn, which makes it compatible with other agricultural and non-agricultural activities. Traditional olive-growing is labour intensive during particular periods of the year, and it is an important part of the heritage and socio-cultural life across Mediterranean rural areas.
Trade and the movement of goods and people, climatic variations and changes in farming practices have facilitated the introduction, spread and establishment of pests and diseases. Several insects, diseases, nematodes and weeds affect olive trees, and the number of these occurrences has dramatically increased over the last years, causing serious damage to the overall olive production. Pesticides are often used to protect the olive crop against pests and disease attacks. However, there is increased concern about the effects of pesticides on the environment, human health and product quality. Recognising and understanding the nature of these pathogens and understanding the interactions between crop, climate, environment and pathogens are essential to minimise crop losses and economic damage. The Focus Group will explore more sustainable farming practices, including using non-chemical pesticides, tackling the whole cycle of diseases and pests in olive production: their prevention, detection, management and control. Work shall address both conventional and organic systems.