Project: EcoOrchard – University of Copenhagen

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Plant and Environmental Sciences > Research > Organismal Biology > Applied Insect-Plant Ecology > Project: EcoOrchard


Pest management in organic apple orchards - increasing functional agricultural biodiversity

Main project activities

  1. To identify promising techniques, tools and monitoring protocols to improve management of functional biodiversity, which consistently enhance the performance of natural enemies, reduce pest pressure and are adapted to farmers' implementation.
  2. To assess promising techniques, namely specific flora introduction to provide and optimize supplementary alternative food/prey for natural enemies, and specifically adapted habitat management.
  3. To create a European-wide network of stakeholders for collecting, sharing and improving scientific and practical knowledge and experience in functional biodiversity management for resilient organic orchards.
  4. To learn from a participatory approach about potential constraints that may hamper the adoption of innovative tools and how to solve these constraints by iterative re-evaluation.

Project midterm summary July 2016

  • Knowledge and experience on Functional AgroBiodiversity (FAB) management both from practitioners and scientists has been collected and are being reviewed
    • interviews of farmers (>100) and advisors (>50) in all partner countries
    • published research in literature, with 200 priority papers  accessible through the EBIO-Network
    • So far 3 workshops with growers, advisors and research have been held. In addition to original plans a workshop with researchers and advisors was held at the EcoFruit conference February 2016
  • The infrastructure for the EBIO-Network platform with exchange of data between stakeholders has been created (EBIO-Network website) and can be accessed on, but still needs more in- and output.
  • Based on interviews 34 techniques were described and can be divided into 3 categories: long-term ecological infrastructures, dynamic agricultural practices adaptable from a season to another (e.g.: to adapt interrow mowing) and deeper system redesign requiring strong interactions with the production system (e.g.: crop diversification). 
  • Methods and innovations for FAB identified by the data collections were reviewed with respect to their practical use and information provided and 4 methods have been displayed in the field by main partners in WP2. These methods are being compared for information provided in regard with time and skills needed for this information. Several criteria have been discussed and weighed for each method. These methods were submitted to farmers during national workshop or demonstrations and throughout the 2016 season, they are tested for use by farmers in their orchards.
  • The development of two types of inter-row flower strips is completed and field protocols of investigations of the FAB services as well as site description have been made.
  • Field trials for interrow flower strips was established in 7 countries in 2015 using a complete block design
  • Monitoring and recordings of flower strip establishment and of effect on pests and natural enemies are ongoing. A good establishing of strips have been found in three countries (Be, CH and It) and moderate (poor to medium/good) in four countries (DK, D, PL and S). The establishing of strips in Northern-European countries may be more challenging due to the climatic conditions, and may require more adapted mulching regimes (later dates and maybe fewer cutting dates). We are anticipating these topics using an indicator plant-list to optimise mulching dates.
  • A 1st set of recommendations for farmers have been done including e.g. management of flower strips, seed mixtures, necessary restrictions in plant protection management and adapted machinery for implementation.
  • During the first part of the EcoOrchard project, WP4 organized four workshops in different countries of the consortium as proposed in: France (January, March 2016), in Sweden (February 2016) and in Denmark (April 2016) gathering farmers and advisors to share their different visions of functional biodiversity, the practices they know to favor or disadvantage functional biodiversity and the methods to appreciate the impact of these practices on functional biodiversity.
  • Based on WP2 production, and on the gathering of expert knowledge, provisional leaflets describing the different FAB monitoring methods were established in English, French, Latvian, Danish and Swedish, and are all available on the EcoOrchard partners’ shared OneDrive platform.
  • Through the organization of the workshops we achieve to create a space for exchanges about FAB monitoring practices, we also used those events to favour collective learning about functional biodiversity and monitoring methods.

Read more about the project at ICROFS.

Read more about the EBio-Network.

See a video on FAB techniques