“Farmers need to see integrated pest management in action in real farms”

Nicolas Munier-Jolain - INRAE (France)

Nicolas Munier-Jolain at Agroscope (Nyon, Switzerland) during the second IPMWORKS Annual Meeting.

Nicolas Munier-Jolain, researcher at INRAE (French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment), is the coordinator of the H2020 IPMWORKS project, an EU-wide farm network demonstrating and promoting Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies.

The effectiveness of IPM, which serves to name the project, is a central aspect of this interview, conducted in the course of the second IPMWORKS Annual Meeting. A conversation in which Munier-Jolain reflects on what is needed to expand the adoption of IPM by European farmers. Peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, as he emphasizes, plays a key role in achieving widespread reductions in pesticide use.

The Farm-to-Fork strategy, a major component of the European Green Deal, set the challenging goal of reducing the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50 % in 2030.

Question. Why does IPM work?

Answer. IPM stands for integrated pest management, which means that farmers are using a combination of chemical and non-chemical methods to control pests and diseases and weeds in the fields. It actually works because there are plenty of measures that farmers can use to control the pests and diseases and weeds. They can change the cropping system to decrease the pest pressure by, for example, using long diversified crop rotation or resistant cultivars. And they can also optimize the decision-making to avoid unnecessary treatment.

We have farmers implementing IPM in the IPMWORKS network who show that, indeed, it works, meaning that it enables reduction of pesticide use, is cost-effective for farmers and improves farm sustainability.

Q. What is needed for a more general adoption of advanced IPM strategies?

A. Farmers, first of all, need to be convinced that IPM works. They need to see IPM in action in real farms. That is why the IPMWORKS project is organizing demo events in real farms, showing the success stories of some pioneer farmers who are implementing IPM.

Farmers need to be convinced by precise and detailed data on the cost-efficiency of IPM. They need to see the economic read of farms implementing IPM, the outcomes of these strategies in terms of yield, input costs, economic outcomes… And they also need help from advisors who have a holistic vision of integrated pest management at the whole farming level.

Integrated Pest Management enables reduction of pesticide use, is cost-effective for farmers and improves farm sustainability


Q. Tell us about the H2020 IPMWORKS project’s main achievements so far.

A. During the first 2 years of the H2020 IPMWORKS project, we have set up 22 hubs of demonstration farms, which makes a total of 250 demo farmers who are implementing IPM. They are organizing demonstration events to show to other farmers what they are doing in their farms.

We have also developed a specific methodology to help advisers managing the groups of farmers, help farmers exchanging their knowledge, their IPM practices, and help farmers adopting further integrated pest management and going further into the reduction of pesticide use.

Q. How about the data collected in the demo farms. Could you share a result showing that IPM indeed works and is cost-effective?

A. We made a survey among the farmers of the IPMWORKS network, asking them to provide a self-assessment on how far they were implementing integrated pest management and some information about pesticide use.

We demonstrated from this survey that those farmers who think that they are implementing all aspects of IPM are indeed using less pesticides than the others. And what is interesting is that they also declare to have a satisfying control of pests and satisfying economic outcomes, meaning that IPM seems to be, indeed, cost-effective.

Q. Finally, let’s have a look at the future. IPMWORKS is running until 2024. How do you envision the adoption of IPM practices across Europe by the end of this project or even beyond its end date?

A. For the end of the project the first challenge is to organize many demonstration events on farms in the network to demonstrate to other farmers that IPM is indeed interesting. The second challenge is to collect more detailed information about the practices of those farmers to have more precise figures about pesticide use, pesticide impacts, cost-efficiency. And the last challenge is to think about the future because we would like our network to expand at the end of the project, to have more farmers, more demo farms, more demo activities to convince all the farmers of Europe to adopt IPM and to meet the objective of the Farm-to-Fork strategy, which is to halve pesticide use and pesticide impact in European agriculture.