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Future innovation for pesticide use reduction in agriculture - FORTUNA

Funding: Horizon Europe, European Union

Coordinator: Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Germany

Consortium partners: The FORTUNA project brings together 11 partners from 9 European countries (8 EU + Switzerland)

Duration: January  2024  – December 2026 

https://horizon-fortuna.eu/

Future innovation for pesticide use reduction in agriculture

Agricultural production largely depends on external inputs both for plant nutrition and crop protection to ensure the production of high-quality products. The cropping systems have also been optimised based on high-yielding varieties, high inputs, and mechanisation developments. Despite the development of agricultural practices, the integration of new technologies by farmers and a demand for integrated pest management implementation, yields have been relatively stable and sales of plant protection products remained almost the same around 350,000 tonnes per year of active substances in the last years. However, cropping systems are continuously based on the availability and efficacy of chemical synthetic pesticides for the control of pests, referring to weeds, diseases, and insect pests. This ensures stable yields but has led to a simplification of cropping systems and the loss of crop and species diversity. Negatively, this has cascading effects contributing to even greater dependence on pesticides and to negative impacts on biodiversity, water quality, and human health. Future resilient cropping systems might benefit from the experiences of organic farming, e.g. longer rotations with high share of legume crops and building on the principles of enhancing agroecosystem health, biodiversity, and above and below ground biological activity. 

The FORTUNA project strongly supports to the implementation of the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F), the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the EU climate policy under the European Green Deal by contributing to the reduction of the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and reduction in the use of the more hazardous pesticides by 50%. 

ÖMKi, in the project, contributes to the collection and analysis of relevant and reliable information from various sources (e.g. desk studies, systematic literature reviews, etc.) in the fields of sustainable agricultural crop protection. These research findings will be mapped coherently with two scenarios (50 % pest reduction and pesticide free agriculture) for pesticide use reduction in order to have a wide overview on the state of the art and relevant innovations in different sectors and cropping systems. The analysis will support the redesign of cropping systems across Europe to guide future agriculture and will summarise the knowledge gaps where further research is needed.  

Moreover, ÖMKi is responsible for synthesizing the project outcomes and stakeholder views concerning the future research needs for pesticide reduction in a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), which will be validated through three regional workshops in the EU involving actors of the agri-food chain to make the SRIA more robust.  

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