THIRD WORLD NETWORK INFORMATION SERVICE ON SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE
Dear Friends and Colleagues
Pesticides can be reduced without negatively affecting productivity or profitability
A new study has found thatlow pesticide use rarely decreased productivity and profitability on arable farms. Researchers from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research assessed whether herbicides, fungicides and insecticides were associated with productivity or profitability in 946 non-organic arable commercial farms showing contrasting levels of pesticide use and covering a wide range of production situations in France.
They found that there was no relation between low pesticide use and high productivity and high profitability in 77% of the farms. The studyestimated that total pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects on both productivity and profitability in 59% of the farms. This corresponded to an average reduction of 37%, 47% and 60% of herbicide, fungicide and insecticide use, respectively.
Interestingly also, it appeared that the potential for reducing pesticide use was higher in farms with currently high pesticide use compared to those with low pesticide use. This means that farmers can change their practices and use other technological innovations to protect their crops from pests while reducing pesticide use.
With best wishes,
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
Websites: http://www.twn.my/and http://www.biosafety-info.net/
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Reducing pesticide use while preserving crop productivity and profitability on arable farms
Martin Lechenet, Fabrice Dessaint, Guillaume Py, David Makowski & Nicolas Munier-Jolain
Nature Plants3, Article number: 17008 (2017)
Achieving sustainable crop production while feeding an increasing world population is one of the most ambitious challenges of this century. Meeting this challenge will necessarily imply a drastic reduction of adverse environmental effects arising from agricultural activities. The reduction of pesticide use is one of the critical drivers to preserve the environment and human health. Pesticide use could be reduced through the adoption of new production strategies; however, whether substantial reductions of pesticide use are possible without impacting crop productivity and profitability is debatable. Here, we demonstrated that low pesticide use rarely decreases productivity and profitability in arable farms. We analysed the potential conflicts between pesticide use and productivity or profitability with data from 946 non-organic arable commercial farms showing contrasting levels of pesticide use and covering a wide range of production situations in France. We failed to detect any conflict between low pesticide use and both high productivity and high profitability in 77% of the farms. We estimated that total pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects on both productivity and profitability in 59% of farms from our national network. This corresponded to an average reduction of 37, 47 and 60% of herbicide, fungicide and insecticide use, respectively. The potential for reducing pesticide use appeared higher in farms with currently high pesticide use than in farms with low pesticide use. Our results demonstrate that pesticide reduction is already accessible to farmers in most production situations. This would imply profound changes in market organization and trade balance.