Pioneering Welsh research into controlling weeds without chemicals is gaining interest in Europe.
Two European Innovation Project (EIP) Wales studies on robotic and electrical weeding captured the interest of a team at the Agricultural University of Athens currently leading Oper8, a collaborative project on alternative weed management.
As such, ADAS consultants Lynn Tatnell, Ellie Dearlove and Will John, who had key roles in those EIP Wales projects, attended the launch meeting of Oper8 in Athens.
Mr John, environment, food and farming consultant at ADAS, said that increasing focus on sustainability issues and evidence of herbicide resistance was driving decision making to look at a range of alternatives to pesticides and a more integrated pesticide management approach.
With that in mind, the Oper8 project has been designed to support and promote solutions for non-chemical weed control by building on the knowledge and outcomes generated by the EIP Operational Groups in different countries.
It is supported by Europe’s funding programme for research and innovation, Horizon 21, and aims to broaden the outcomes of two EIP Wales weed management projects and others through knowledge sharing and collaboration with other European countries.
“There is an ambitious plan going forward,’’ said Mr John. “Engagement with farmers, researchers, policy makers and industry representatives over the next three years will capture need at a grass roots level and consider gaps in knowledge and barriers to adopting alternative methods of weed control.”
Organisations from many European countries, including Greece, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Sweden and France, are also involved. A range of factsheets, videos, demonstration events and workshops will be used to disseminate the information gathered during the project.
On-farm demonstrations will, said Mr John, respond to specific needs and precise demand.
“Demonstration farmers will share their experiences with other practitioners through different field events,’’ he explained.
Mr John described Oper8 as a “great opportunity’’ to work with different countries with similar challenges to those being experienced by growers in Wales.
National action plans based on solutions identified by EIP projects will be developed and evaluated on cost-benefit basis relevant to each country.
Anyone who is interested in learning more about the project or getting involved can contact Mr John at email@example.com.
The project can be followed at https://www.linkedin.com/company/oper8/
EIP Wales, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes, has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.