Our crops are exposed to a wide range of pests, which are increasingly introduced species or species spreading due to climate change, which affect the performance, i.e. the yield and quality, of the crops.
The plant protection methods used to combat these harmful organisms have so far been based primarily on synthetic chemical agents. Society and politics are increasingly calling for a timely reduction of chemical methods (Farm-to-Fork Strategy, National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products). With a focus on the development of non-chemical agents and methods as well as preventive phytosanitary measures, the JKI investigates the biology of weeds, pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc.) and pests (insects, mites, nematodes, vertebrates, etc.) as well as the ability of crop plants to protect themselves against them. Investigations of the interactions between crop plants, biotic pests and their natural counterparts are an integral part of the research.
Another focus of work is the recording of the genetic basis of resistance properties and their utilisation and improvement up to variety breeding in fruit and vines. This serves the holistic approach and the development of sustainable strategies for the reduction of biotic stress factors and the promotion of healthy crops. In designing such strategies, the JKI is also particularly responsive to demands from society and politics to make greater use of non-chemical means and methods to protect crops. The aim is also to introduce these strategies into practice and integrate them into cultivation systems in a timely manner.