No matter whether corn, rapeseed, or potatoes are grown on small or large fields, no matter whether vegetables are grown in greenhouses. Plants can always become a welcome feast for crop pests or be colonized by pathogens. Or unwanted weeds compete with crop plants for light, water and nutrients.
No matter what the actual problem is, noticeable effect is a smaller harvest. Crops may also be contaminated by toxins produced by fungi, known as mycotoxins, which can be dangerous for humans and animals alike. The JKI is committed to the protection of plants: from sowing to harvest, including stored product protection as well. Our foremost ambition is that enough healthy food and feed of good quality are harvested.
Since 1986, the German Plant Protection Act (PSchG) has made an integrated pest management (IPM) compulsory. It states that “the application of chemical pesticides shall be limited to what is necessary”. Priority shall be given to preventive measures such as biological and biotechnological methods or to the cultivation of more resilient varieties.
Throughout all discussions relating to agriculture, we have to bear in mind that there is no panacea available for the cultivation of plants, even not any standardized production processes as common in factories. A year being either wet and cold or dry and warm leads to the proliferation of quite different pests and plant pathogens in varying degrees. Farmers must therefore respond to each situation flexibly and quickly.
An integrated pest management is recognized as a model for sustainable agriculture worldwide (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and Agenda 21). The National Action Plan (NAP) forms part of the implementation of the European Union’s Sustainable Use Directive (Article 4 (1) of the DIRECTIVE 2009/128/EC of the European parliament and of the council to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides). By implementing the National Action Plan, the requirements under section four of the Plant Protection Act (Pflanzenschutzgesetz) are complied.
Results of many long-term investigations in Germany and at the JKI found their way into these regulations. The JKI contributes to the successful implementation of NAP with extensive activities, investigations, analysis of data, calculations of indicators, coordination activities, as well as own research.
The JKI provides policy advice on how to further develop and shape plant protection and stored product control. This includes the development of sufficiently effective agents and procedures and their assessment. Biological, biotechnological, physical methods as well as agricultural-engineering measures are specially needed. Moreover, it is crucial to keep risks that may emanate from the use of chemical agents as low as possible. To make progress in this field visible for politicians and the general public, we are coordinating a network of reference farms that document the intensity and the changes in the application of pesticides in the long run.
According to the National Action Plan, an important measure should be the introduction of new procedures of integrated plant protection tools into practice. Consequently, the pilot project „Integrated Plant Protection Demonstration Farms“ started in 2010. The JKI and the plant protection services of the German States (Länder) coordinate the network and support the farms participating in the project. For more information: https://www.nap-pflanzenschutz.de/en/practice/demonstration-farms/
To estimate the pesticide use under real conditions, a "network reference farms plant protection" and crop-specific networks (PAnel Plant protection products Applications - PAPA) were established. The data are annually assessed and evaluated by the JKI.
Also risk indicators for plant protection products are calculated by our experts, for example with the calculation model SYNOPS.
On the basis of the evaluation and analysis of huge amounts of data as well as by combining GIS data with data referring to the occurrence of pests, climate data and many more, we are in a position to present comprehensive information and to make more details on demand online accessible. An example is the GeoPortal, which allows generating interactive maps for specific crops and their exposure to important pests and pathogens.
Experts from the JKI are also engaged in assessing new plant protection products and scrutinize their active agents for their effectiveness and potential risks (read more under The JKI as federal authority). The JKI is furthermore active in a precautionary crop protection. Here, it analyzes the risks emerging from invasive alien species that are introduced with the global movement of goods and seeks to create appropriate control measures (read more under plant health).