In the OPTIMA programme, an environmentally friendly Integrated Pest Management (IPM) framework will be developed for vineyards (mildew), apple orchards (apple scab) and root crops (leaf spot disease).

The holistic and comprehensive approach includes the following:

  • New uses of biological pesticides
  • Disease prediction models
  • Early disease detection systems using spectral reflectance
  • Precision spraying techniques

OPTIMA will substantially reduce the dependence of European agriculture on chemical plant protection products, thus resulting in 1) less use of agrochemicals, 2) fewer chemical residues on crops and 3) less impact on human health.

The programme will use advanced early detection methods based on spectral image processing, and diseases will be classified based on deep learning. This will enable infections to be accurately identified, localised and quantified. Three innovative prototype sprayers are also being developed. The advanced prototypes and the monitoring system will be tested in real time under three different field conditions. Finally, OPTIMA will assess the health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of the proposed IPM framework compared to conventional systems.