'PPS GROEN': Public-Private Partnership project 'Gewasbescherming Robuust Optimaal En Natuurlijk'

The GROEN research project began at the start of June in 2017. In the next four years supplying companies, other parties in the chain, knowledge institutions and outdoor cultivators in this PPP will collectively research smart tools for current problems in outdoor cultivation and new sustainable cultivation systems. The tools and new cultivation systems will help outdoor cultivators become less dependent on chemical crop protection. Wageningen University & Research is one of the knowledge institutions within this PPP.

In the last few decades, this sector has taken large steps in minimising the amount and the number of chemical agents used in agricultural farming. The most important measures for that were the use of low dosage systems and the decision to use agents with a reduced environmental impact. These measures cannot ensure an even larger decrease in the use of chemical agents. The next step in reducing the use of chemical agents focuses on the widespread dependence on chemical agents. Can the dependence on these chemical agents be decreased by a different construction plan, the use of alternative pesticides, applying mechanical or cultural measures and is this economically viable for the farmers?

System updates are necessary for sustainable change in the outdoor cultivation sector. A few existing crops acutely require alternative agents and methods due to a lack of available chemical agents or a high dependency on current chemical pesticides. The latter increases the need for the replacement of chemical agents even more, considering that the excessive use of chemical pesticides can lead to resistance to disease, pests and weeds that are controlled by them.

The public-private partnership (PPP) GROEN is supported by the Dutch Agri & Food top sector and will work during the next four years on integrating the existing building blocks in the GROEN system, to develop new IPM building blocks which fit in a GROEN system for acute problems and to test and evaluate the performance of a new GROEN cultivation system.

To develop a GROEN system building blocks are needed in the fields of crop rotation; the creation of optimal growing conditions for the crop; environmental conditions which ensure the disruption of the life cycles of diseases, pests and weeds, and the continuity of useful organisms; monitoring and the use of control methods (physical, chemical, biological and green). The knowledge institutions collaborate with partners that can all contribute to the development of one or more building blocks.

The PPP focuses on the missing knowledge which may contribute to finding the building blocks focused on several acute problems faced by outdoor crops. There is close collaboration between partners which have knowledge, products and/or services that may contribute to developing and optimising the building blocks. This concerns the methods which create the optimal growing conditions for the crop, making the crop more resilient against diseases/pests, but it also concerns the use of new pesticides. In four years’ time, the currently missing knowledge will be developed for several building block combinations of diseases, pests and crops for a reduced dependency on chemical agents.