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The ACE card for reducing residues in peppers

An IPM approach not only reduces residues but can also improve returns for pepper growers in Spain

Residue reduction is currently high on the agenda of many growers in Spain so confirmation that an IPM approach in peppers not only reduces residues but also significantly improve returns to growers must be good news.  Certis Spain has recently completed a project in the Almeria region that demonstrates clear benefits offered to growers by IPM.

The project is one of a series dubbed “Action for Certis Europe” (ACE) run by the European organisation and involving close collaboration between the teams at Biological Crop Protection (BCP) and Certis companies in Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK. This particular project was conducted with BCP and the marketing organisation, The Greenery, plus its cooperatives and set out to compare a conventional chemical-based control programme for peppers with a new IPM strategy combining several biological controls with chemical products selected for their compatibility with beneficial insects.

10 plots were used for the trials: three using conventional chemical-based controls (18,500 m2) and seven using IPM programmes (42,500 m2).  All crops were planted during June and July 2005.

In these trials the IPM programme provided effective pest control using Amblyseius cucumberis, Orius and Nesidiocoris, offering a major advantage of excluding pesticides with high potential residue risks.   Residues were in fact reduced well below minimum values, thereby allowing growers access to the markets provided by the North European supermarkets.  This benefit alone offers a major impetus for the adoption of IPM in Almeria.

However, this was not the only gain from using IPM.  Yields ranged from 5.3 to 5.8 kg/m2 (average5.5 kg/m2) in the plots using conventional controls and from 5.8 to 6.6 kg/m2 (average 6.19kg/m2) in the IPM plots.  In addition to producing extra yield, the crop was also of higher quality, due to less stress from chemical-based conventional treatments.  As a result a price premium was achieved, increasing returns by 17% from €3.43 (conventional) to €4.03/m2 (IPM). 

COST (€/M2)
COST (€/M2)
CONVENT’L 1CONAN5.300.000.983.292.31
CONVENT’L 2BILBO5.800.001.123.712.59
CONVENT’L 3BIPODE5.400.000.923.292.37
CONVENTIONAL AVERAGE5.500.001.013.432.42
IPM 1CONAN6.600.250.304.493.94
IPM 2BILBO6.200.290.434.033.31
IPM 3MELCHOR5.800.410.273.542.86
IPM 4BIPODE6.200.460.284.033.29
IPM 5BILBO6.100.300.383.973.29
IPM 6BISERA6.400.300.374.293.62
IPM 7BILBO6.000.260.443.903.2
IPM AVERAGE6.190.320.354.033.35

The total cost of pest control on the IPM plots (0.68 €/m2) is calculated including the costs of beneficial insects (45% of total cost) plus the low impact insecticides and fungicides (55% of total cost).  The results showed that grower input costs were reduced by 30% under the IPM programme.  Labour costs were not calculated in the project but it is clear that, with fewer treatments needed, labour requirements are lower for IPM than for conventional treatments, so these costs will also be down.

The combination of reduced costs of the IPM programme and higher returns for the crop created a substantial overall improvement in grower margins over input costs of 38% as well as meeting the demands of the Northern European supermarkets for reduced residues in the fruit.

Conventional chemical
-based control
IPM control
Pepper price (€/m2)€0.62€0.65
Pepper yield (kg/m2)5.56.2
Crop return (€/m2)€3.43€4.03
Crop protection costs (€/m2)€1.0€0.68
Margin over input costs€2.43€2.43
Percentage improvement over
conventional chemical-based control