The European agricultural sector is facing significant challenges that require immediate action. We need to diversify our approach to ensure crop yields and protect against pests and diseases. Simply getting rid of pesticides isn’t the silver bullet. We need to find solutions that address the changing climatic conditions which farmers are facing and still being able to prioritise sustainable food production.
Taking a comprehensive approach and leveraging all innovative tools available to us is the most effective way to do this. We can protect biodiversity, combat climate change and ensure farmers can produce enough safe and healthy food. While this may seem like a daunting task, it is the best way forward.
Any future discussions and legislation such as the Sustainable Use of Pesticides or the proposal on new genomic techniques (and many more) must consider and embrace all innovative tools whilst applying this comprehensive approach.
Innovation, Innovation, Innovation
In a world that thrives on innovation, our sector strives to unlock every ounce of it. Sharing knowledge across fields and countries and leveraging cutting-edge tools from top-notch research and development are just a glimpse of our accomplishments. Our sector, as well as many others in this area, is working tirelessly to find solutions to tackle the challenges faced by agriculture over the next few decades. Here are just a few examples of what our sector is doing and what can be achieved with legislation in the EU which embraces innovation in agriculture.
The potential benefits of the technology of digital agronomy are currently being overlooked. We already see how technologies like digital farming can reduce the ecological impact of agriculture. High-tech precision applications allow for precise and minimal crop protection, resulting in reduction in pesticide use and risk according to the latest indicators. Not to keep on banging the drum but if we are serious about using pesticides sustainably – we need to encourage and embrace digital and precision ag tools.
We are making significant investments in digital technology because we believe this is the future of agriculture. Embracing the latest solutions in agriculture will allow us to produce food in a more sustainable and efficient way, not only in Europe but also globally. The proposed SUR could act as a gateway for adopting these new tools. It can send a strong signal on the vision of agriculture and the type of investment needed to manage this transition.
Biopesticides, biocontrol, biologicals
Whatever we call them, we need them! They offer numerous advantages. By incorporating biopesticides into Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programmes, farmers can achieve economically viable crop yields while reducing overall chemical pesticide use. Implementing a combination of different biopesticides at the appropriate time and in the correct manner, and monitoring the results, unlocks the power of these innovative products.
However, before farmers can fully use biopesticides, the crop protection sector needs the EU institutions to adapt the regulatory pathways to support the introduction of new biopesticides into the European marketplace. Specifically, the European Commission must develop clear data requirements for novel biopesticides. Exciting new technologies, such as peptides and fermentation products, remain untapped due to the absence of a defined regulatory pathway. This puts European farmers at a disadvantage compared to other global regions.
It is crucial for the EU to ensure that farmers and the environment benefit from the potential of biopesticides.
It all starts with the seeds
Embracing innovation is crucial for advancement in plant breeding. By applying innovative technologies, we can develop new varieties with specific desirable traits. This can result in improved productivity, disease resistance, drought tolerance, longer shelf life, and enhanced taste. The demand for better seeds with improved genetics has never been higher, especially in the face of drastic climate conditions. These seeds are needed urgently to meet the goals set for 2030 and beyond. With many of my close friends wheat intolerant or coeliac, it is exciting to see the potential this technology can offer in terms of health and economic benefit to a growing portion of the population.
Our vision for agriculture
By embracing innovation in agriculture, we can overcome the challenges we face and create a more sustainable future for all. We need to unlock the potential of digital agronomy, biopesticides and innovative plant breeding in order to achieve sustainable use of pesticides and ensure food security for generations to come.
At the core of our vision for agriculture is a commitment to sustainable food production within the limits of our planet. By embracing innovative solutions, we can make this vision a reality and create a better future for both farmers and consumers. Let’s work together towards a toolbox of solutions for sustainable agriculture and a healthier planet for all. And to do that we need a policy framework that embraces innovation. Sustainable Use Regulation is an important piece of legislation that can facilitate transition and send a strong message of support for innovative technologies.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn authored by Emma Brown