During the past decade the European union has invested much efforts towards an integrated and sustainable agricultural policy.
New policies have been defined with the objective of finding improved nutritional safety for both consumers and for the environment.

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One of the consequences we have seen in agriculture is radical change in pest management practices.

Agriculture has been based on the use of chemical products for the past 60 years and we are now seeing a progressive review of such practices in line with new and more stringent regulations by European directives aimed at safeguarding consumers and the ecosystem.

IPM integrated management systems have been introduced in the 80’s of last century. These are the earliest programs that have taken place. Since the early 1990’s the European Union has taken great strides towards integrated pest management (IPM) with the introduction of technical norms and incentives to farms who complied. Important directives have been introduced recently  (dir.128/2009) to be adopted in all the European territory.

So what we do we mean by integrated pesticide management?

Within the last few decades, scientists have learned that some pesticides can leach through the soil and enter the groundwater. While much we depend upon groundwater for drinking water most of the households in rural areas use groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. The impact of agricultural chemicals on surface and groundwater quality has become an important issue.

 Integrated pest management IPM is a process you can use to solve pest problems by  reducing the use of pesticides.   IPM was developed from the necessity to contain costs of chemical treatments and indirect costs from the environmental side effects.

It focuses on the prevention of pest by managing the ecosystem. The system involves a series of actions which can be mechanical, biological and if necessary chemical. Its includes the use of natural enemies such as predators, parasites and competitors to control pests, as many plant pathogens, weeds and invertebrates have natural enemies. Other forms of pest management using mechanical system include irrigation control since too much water can increase root disease and weeds.

 The aim is not to eliminate but to keep unwanted pests below tolerance level, it is aimed specifically at controlling those agents that damage crops.

The presence of bushes or hedges that favour the development of natural predators or other physical interventions such as rotation, pruning, weeding, steam sterilization or soil irrigation or screens to keep birds or insects out can condition the presence of crop enemies. Other techniques involve the introduction of disturbance factors such as sterile males that reduce the multiplication of damaging organisms.

 There are many several ways to combat pests the last one is chemicals pesticide. In IPM pesticides are only used in limited quantities in combination with other practices and only when needed. Their use is selective and used in such a way that it does not endanger people or the environment. All these system help increase the value of natural resources and all those factors that make up the ecosystem. With regards to integrated pest management Agraz is in an advanced stage of development.

 We performed a trial biological fight against pests on one of Agraz’s farm land, by using a predator named Nesidiocoris tenuis. The target was to prevent attacks from famous tomato predator Tuta Absoluta, using as few pesticides as possible. Our farmer set free Nesidiocoris tenuis adults on its fields and the results were astonishing, as the action of this bug reduced the attack of the Tuta Absoluta. He just needed to apply 2 pesticides treatments during the entire crop, when normally he needed to apply 3 for each. This represented economic savings of up to 30% as well as a significant reduction in pesticides used!”

 Agraz is growing in experience and harvesting know-how and will certainly invest more of its resources in the future with the aim of reducing the usage of pesticides.