Competence area within integrated plant protection
Food production is facing a number of challenges arising from global changes to the environment and society. The development of sustainable farming systems is necessary to meet these challenges.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based, interdisciplinary strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of plant diseases and pests or their damage through a combination of measures such as biological control, chemical control, and cultural practices. Pest control methods are selected and applied in such a way so as to minimize risks to human health, beneficial and non-target organisms, and the environment. IPM is highly desirable due to its environmental and economic benefits, and a recent EU directive (2009/128/EC) mandates that IPM shall be used in all agricultural pest control by 2014. Clients for IPM programs include large- and small-scale practitioners of agriculture, horticulture, and gardening, both professional and public. However, there are still significant knowledge gaps that prevent the use of IPM.
Implementing IPM involves iterative interaction between basic laboratory research, field trials, and multiple stakeholders to foster co-learning of innovation. The design of optimal integrated pest management strategies is an interdisciplinary research activity that bridges the gap between theoretical and applied ecology and requires field-applied science based on ecological theory. Therefore, the ecology of relevant pests and diseases and their interactions with the aboveground and belowground components of the crop management system need to be well understood. Such an interdisciplinary approach requires the development and the refinement of collaboration within the research group.
Our unit has developed a broad and deep knowledge in IPM that links basic and applied research by collaboration within the working group and with groups at other institutions within and outside Sweden. By designing research programs that embrace all the steps, from multi-stakeholder research question definitions through the acquisition of basic knowledge to the transition to the field situation, we generate novel opportunities for a safe pest management.
We conduct research in direct connection with practitioners and agricultural development actors and is responsive to their input. We conduct basic research to adress knowledge gaps that relate to applied problems, and we interact with stakeholders to explore new opportunities for sustainable and resilient pest management, and for the implementation of our research. Currently, we interact by using participatory action research methods within the context of pest management research. Teaching activities have been closely linked to basic as well as applied research in order to prepare the students to play important roles in future sustainable plant protection.
The objective of our research is to improve IPM programs through the incorporation of tools such as biological control, cultural practices, semiochemicals, decision support tools, and ecosystem engineering within cultivation systems. In order to fulfil our mission, we are carrying out laboratory, semi-field and field research from an agro-ecological perspective. This approach allows for both developing new practical applications and testing new ecological hypotheses. Broader goals such as preservation of biodiversity, ecosystem services and food safety are achieved through the implementation of our results. The ultimate goal is to co-create new pest management programs in cooperation with end-users and thereby increase IPM adoption.
- Develop sustainable agro-ecosystems with resilience to pests and diseases based on ecological theory and the needs of current and evolving agriculture.
- Develop an interaction with practitioners and agricultural development actors within the context of pest management.
- Develop teaching activities in plant protection.