Disease and pest management

Disease and pest management to ensure healthy crops

Our work entails looking for sustainable solutions to complex agricultural and horticultural problems. Biological control and the use of what are known as resilient systems are examples of these solutions.

If agriculture is to be safe, healthy and sustainable, it is essential to have healthy crops; they play a role in producing sufficient quantities of healthy foods and contribute to the quality of life. Our research into disease and pest management for the agricultural and horticultural sectors focuses on the interaction between crops and the diseases and pests that affect them. We use our knowledge of this subject to enable successful and sustainable integrated crop protection to be applied in practice.

Biological control and resilient systems

We study both harmful and useful fungi , viruses, bacteria and insects and analyse the effect they have on crop health. As a result, we have an understanding of resilient systems such as resilient soils or substrates, but also of biological control using fungi and bacteria, all of which are sustainable solutions. They play a role in the successful and sustainable integrated crop protection strategies that make agriculture sustainable.

Sustainable crop protection

Integrated crop protection involves combining various sustainable crop protection methods in order to avoid diseases and pests or to suppress them. The aim is to harm the environment as little as possible. Chemical agents are used only to a very limited extent. 

The EU stimulates the use of integrated crop protection methods in order to make the agricultural and horticultural sectors less dependent on pesticides. According to European rules, integrated crop control should involve the following three steps in succession:

  1. Planning cultivation methods and choosing plants should involve preventive measures such as using disease-free seed, selecting resilient varieties and deploying resilient systems;
  2. During the growth period, the crop should be monitored carefully using, for example, Simulation Models and Decision Support Systems;
  3. If a disease or pest does threaten to affect a crop, the control method should be selected with care. If the only option is a pesticide, a biological one is preferred – together with mechanical and other non-chemical methods. Chemical means should be used only as a last resort.

Sustainable solutions

Our research into diseases and pests helps to provide sustainable solutions for managing disease and pest problems. To this end we work intensively with industry and other interested parties. Our aim is to link fundamental and applied research. Our clients commission us to develop effective measures and put them into practice, which we do in collaboration with various partners.