Activity leader:

Maurizio SATTIN (CNR): - 39 (0)49 827 28 20


Photo ACTA                          

With 11 M hectares, maize is one of the most important crops in Europe with crop protection by-and-large reliant on intensive pesticide use. The IPM solutions developed by PURE are calculated to reduce pesticide use by 40% on average. First, the use of DSS, forecasting, and monitoring of pest, disease and weeds will reduce the number of pesticide applications. Second, band application techniques and precision spraying will reduce herbicide volumes. And lastly, efficient use of inter-row cultivation, mechanical weeding, and reliance on biological control and pheromones against European corn borer, wireworms, cutworms, and Western corn rootworm will substitute chemical treatments. Beyond mere reduction, the IPM solutions developed will be more environmentally sustainable due to the reduced frequency of treatments combined with the selection of pesticides with lower mobility and eco-toxicity. 


The general objective of this activity is to identify, test and validate innovative IPM solutions for maize based cropping systems. New and sustainable IPM solutions will be identified and adapted to some of the most important grain maize producing European areas. Cost/benefit evaluation of relevant IPM solutions will play an important role. Positive assessments should demonstrate that proposed solutions bring about a reduced risk and reliance on pesticides. The sub-objectives of this activity are:

• To complement available information on the relative weights of the most critical pest problems in maize grain systems and design IPM solutions;

• To identify with the involvement of stakeholders, including SMEs, and assess to ex-ante candidate IPM solutions that address the most critical pest problems and that are selected for field experimentation;

• To test on-station and validate on-farm IPM solutions;

• To provide experimental data for construction and validation of a DSS for weed control in maize;

• To assess ex-post and compare, on a multi-criteria basis, specific candidate IPM solutions after their real-life test, and finally, to endorse them as viable solutions for dissemination.


Rotation is the key element. By its nature, crop rotation is a practice that brings into the system different crop planting dates and growth periods, tillage practices, life cycles, competitive characteristics, pesticide applications and any other available mean to prevent the build-up of adapted weeds, pests and diseases. It favours the resilience of the system (Buhler, 2002). Different types of rotation (i.e. from monoculture to three- four-year rotations with winter crops, legumes and cover crops), including several IPM advanced and innovative solutions will be tested in various central-southern EU maize growing areas and compared. Attention will be paid to the conditions that make rotation possible where farming systems are based on continuous maize.

It will concentrate on southern grain maize systems. However, expertise and know-how from northern Partners will be brought into the WP, and several innovations already tested in Central Europe will be tested and possibly incorporated into southern maize systems (Kudsk, 2008; Van der Weide et al., 2008; Zijlstra et al., submitted). It can be pointed out that maize for grain or silage in southern Europe is cultivated in a very similar way and has the same crop protection problems. This is linked to the need of producing high quality silage which is given by a high grain proportion in the silage. A multi-pest approach will be adopted, i.e. when testing specific IPM tools/solutions. Specific effects as well as the impact on the overall system will be evaluated.

The structure of this activity will be similar to that of other Cropping systems organised in a continuous design-evaluation-adjustment process of IPM solutions where models will be included and relevant stakeholders will be involved.

An intense collaboration is planned with "Emerging technologies" research activity which will make available a DSS engine for weed control in maize. This activity will also benefit from the collaboration with "Pest evolution and enhancement of the durability of IPM solutions" research activity which will model the selection and evolutionary processes of weed communities in maize based systems where rotation is considered and with "Plant-pest-enemies interaction" research activity which will provide new biopesticides to be tested in field conditions.


 Experimental sites:


Description of Deliverables:

First list of tested IPM solutions which improve the sustainability of maize based systems in various European areas and are ready to be used by relevant stakeholders
Selection of IPM tools and solutions, including innovative tools, for three southern and central European major maize growing areas to be tested on-station and possibly validated on-farm where crop rotation will be carefully considered.

Updated list of tested IPM solutions which further improve the sustainability of maize based systems in various European areas and are ready to be used by relevant stakeholders
A list of innovative IPM solutions with description of the characteristics and conditions for implementation and success at farm level and comparative assessment of those solutions.

IPM guidelines for European maize cropping systems based on the overall evaluation of the set of innovative IPM solutions in terms of pesticide use reduction and sustainability
PURE will contribute to the definition of IPM standards throughout Europe by developing IPM guidelines in several cropping systems and guidelines for a multi-criteria assessment of crop protection standards.



The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/ 2007-2013) under the grant agreement n°265865- PURE