Sustainable plant protection is promoted by means of integrated pest management. The Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has issued a decree outlining the general principles of integrated pest management, which professional users of plant protection products must observe as of 1 January 2014. Many farmers are already familiar with the principles of integrated pest management.
Integrated pest management involves evaluating all available plant protection methods and integrating appropriate measures. The aim of integrated pest management is to prevent harmful organisms by means such as crop rotation, tillage techniques and the use of healthy seeds. This means a move away from routine use of plant protection products to a system where pesticides are only applied as and when required. Regular monitoring of pests allows farmers to choose the correct method of pest control and to apply it at the right time.
Farmers can choose from biological, mechanical or chemical pest control methods. Decisions of whether and when to apply plant protection measures are made on the basis of scientifically proven threshold values for levels of pests that will lead to financial loss. Threshold values have not yet been set for all pests.
Chemical treatments are only one option among others in integrated pest management. By monitoring the effectiveness and use of different plant protection products, farmers learn which measures give the best results. Alternating between products with different active substances from one year to the next prevents weeds, plant diseases and pest insects from developing resistance to plant protection products. Preventing the development of resistance is important, because it lengthens the useful life of the products. Crops also tend to grow better when they are not constantly exposed to pesticides.
In the future, integrated pest management will be promoted by means of research and advice. Moreover, integrated pest management will be incorporated into the training and certification of professional users. Instructions for integrated pest management in the context of different groups of plants will be produced in collaboration with advisors, scientists and public authorities. Once these instructions are published, farmers will have access to information about all plant protection threshold values, for example.