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Sustainable use of chemical fumigants for the control of soil-borne pathogens in the horticultural sector (SustUse Fumigants)
Start date: Jan 1, 2010, End date: Dec 31, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background The management of soil-borne pests in intensive horticultural systems was based for years on the use of methyl bromide. However, this chemical reacts in the atmosphere to release elemental bromine, which is severely damaging to the ozone layer. It was the subject of phase-out requirements under international agreements in the 1980s. Phasing out of methyl bromide was enabled practically by the availability of alternatives that could replace it in pest and pathogen control. The best chemical alternatives have been 1,3-Dichloropropene, Chloropicrin, and MITC (methyl isothiocyanate) generators. However, use of these chemicals is still a source of environmental pollution. More sustainable use of fumigants in horticultural cropping systems requires a reduced application rate and diminished environmental dispersion. Objectives The project aims to demonstrate the environmentally sustainable use of chemical fumigants for the control of soil-borne pathogens in the horticultural sector. It ultimately hopes to reduce fumigant use across Europe and thus contribute to sustainable development objectives. The project will analyse pest constraints in target agro-ecosystems within nine project areas: four in Italy; three in Greece; and two in Poland. A common monitoring plan of soil-borne diseases will enable comparisons between the sites. A series of 24 demonstration tests of pest-management techniques will be carried out. These will test different levels and combinations of fumigants and non-chemical alternatives, application methods and doses. Non-chemical practices to be tested include soil solarisation, grafting, bio-control agents, compost use and steam. The project will evaluate the qualitative and quantitative effects on crop production of different alternatives and establish guidelines on the most sustainable use of fumigants. This should provide know-how on using reduced dosages and lowering environmental impact and risk of worker exposure to fumigants without jeopardising output. A technical-economic assessment will be conducted to indicate which environmentally sustainable approaches are also the most economically sustainable. Exchange visits and dissemination materials will be used to raise awareness of the best available practices.
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