Progress towards integrated arable farming research in western Europe.

Author Holland, J.M.
Citation Holland, J.M. (1994). Progress towards integrated arable farming research in western Europe. Pesticide Outlook, 6: 17-23.


Integrated farming systems are foreseen as a way to attain a more sustainable crop production system. Current arable production in central and western Europe involves achieving high yields through high 'off-farm' inputs (fertilizers and pesticides) combined with mechanization. At present 80 million hectares of land are cultivated in Western Europe of which cereal production alone covers 42 million hectares. The number of pesticide treatments varies with crop type but are applied between 2.85 and 5.4 times per season. Almost all cereal crops receive a herbicide, between 60-80% of the cereal area is treated with fungicides and 15-98% with an insecticide (Bigler et aI, 1993). Such an intensive production system is, however, no longer required in Western Europe where over-production continues and set-aside has been implemented to reduce the surpluses. In addition, there is pressure to reduce the level of Common Agricultural Policy support and reduce the subsidies on international exports designated by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Wall, 1992) so bringing the price of cereals within the European Union nearer to the world market price.
Such changes will necessitate a change in arable production systems if farm incomes are to be maintained at their current levels. Reducing off-farm inputs is one option which may help retain profitability but may lead to the development of weed, pest or disease problems unless combined with a range of cultural measures which can redress the balance in favour of crop protection principles. Such methodology is the basis for integrated production. Integrated production as defined by the International Organisation of Biocontrol/West Palaearctic Region Sector (lOBC/WPRS) working group is 'an holistic pattern of land use which integrates natural resources and regulation mechanisms into farming practices to achieve a maximum, but stepwise replacement of off-farm inputs, to secure high quality food and to sustain income' (EI Titi et aI. 1993).

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