A confrerence organised by Patfrut, Unapa and Consorzio Agrario Emilia

Italy: Sustainable and natural techniques to protect potato crops

Active principles have been revoked and thus prevention becomes harder for potato farming. But this is not necessarily a bad thing: if one used more prevention techniques without resorting to chemical products only, it should be possible to control bugs and insects in a more efficient and sustainable way.

On the 18th December 2018, a conference on potato farming was held near Bologna, in the offices of the Patfrut company. More than a hundred people participated in the event which was organised by Patfrut, indeed, Unapa and Emilia Farming Consortium (Consorzio Agrario dell’Emilia).

Bruno Parisi, Sante Cervellati and Antonio Ferro

After the welcoming by Sante Cervellati (Unapa), Davide Pasini (Patfrut) and Antonio Ferro (president of the Emilia Farming Consortium), Bruno Parisi from CREA-CI highlighted that revoking some neonicotinoids reduced the defence possibilities. “However, no need to despair, one just needs to change strategy. From an agronomic standpoint, it would be better to use biofumigation and bioinsecticides. Mapping the dangers can help, as well as anticipating the sowing and the harvesting. Finally, we need a different marketing mindset to make damages more acceptable, so that the farmers would not be the only one paying for this”.

Stefano Campagna

The principles listed by Parisi have been discussed in further meetings. Stefano Campagna (Patfrut) listed the active principles that can be used against the Colorado beetle, “Acetamiprid-based plant protection products can be used against the Colorado beetle in quantities of 1.3 kg per hectare (one treatment per year only), in Emilia Romagna."

Roberto's intervention

In the last months, tests have been carried out in order to understand the resistance of some varieties to the elaterids. As the expert Isadora Benvegnù pointed out, most of the farmed varieties are quite weak against elaterids. Tubers with high dry substance are not more resistant than the others, as well as the wrinkled skin is not a sign of strength. Also, the expert said that “The Q 115-6 variety showed the least damages among the others”.

Luca Lazzeri

Furthermore, biofumigation is becoming increasingly used. As the researchers Luca Lazzeri and Roberto Matteo explained, plants such as the Eruca Sativa and the Brassica Juncea release bio-acid substances when in contact with water. Lazzeri said, “Needless to say, but we need to change mentality and farming management. We need knowledge and culture because biofumigation would show results only over a mid-period of time – when a certain balance is reached. This is not a short-term strategy, that is, not suited for emergencies”.

Claudio Cristiani and Davide Ponti from the Emilia Farming Consortium shared their experiences of the fight against elaterids based on localised irrigation with a biofumigation chemical formula. “The plants on which we used this chemical formula only showed only 13% of damage. Thus, it is worth to carry out more experiments”.

Lorenzo Furlan

“Sowing earlier and also harvesting earlier”, Lorenzo Furlan (Veneto Agricoltura) said to the farmers. “It might sound as something cheap, which does not affect much the final result. In fact, carrying out one of those actions 15 days earlier could mean to reduce 15-20% of damage. It is really bad that we do not have tables to evaluate the potato damage threshold – as there are for every other crop. Through preventive monitoring, farming should be allowed only in those areas with a low concentration of elaterids”.

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