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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri

SOLUTIONS: New solutions for potato canopy desiccation, control of weeds and runners in field strawberries & weed control in apple orchards

Alternative title: SOLUTIONS: Nye løsninger for nedvisning av potetris, bekjempelse av ugras og utløpere i jordbær og ugraskontroll i eplehager

Awarded: NOK 3.2 mill.

Efficient measures for weed control and similar challenges are vital to avoid crop loss in agriculture. National supply of food, feed and other agricultural products depends on each farmer’s success managing their fields and orchards. The recent loss of the herbicide diquat, and the potential ban on glyphosate, - both important tools for farmers -, raise a demand for new measures for vegetation control. Efficient alternatives to herbicides are also important tools in Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Norwegian growers need to document compliance to IPM since 2015 to ensure minimum hazards to health and environment from pesticide use. The SOLUTIONS project will work on new solutions for (1) potato canopy desiccation, (2) control of weeds and runners in field strawberries, and (3) weed management in apple orchards. Measures to be tested are bioherbicides, for example pelargonic acid and other organic acids; Thermal methods, for example hot water and electricity, alone or in combinations with current and new mechanical implements and newly approved products. SOLUTIONS will also work on two precision agriculture technologies that will further reduce the use of synthetic herbicides for vegetation control. One of the technologies is a Norwegian field robot for precision removal of weeds and runners in strawberry fields. The other is variable dosing of potato canopy desiccant based on remote sensing (satellite or drone images). SOLUTIONS is coordinated by NIBIO - Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. It is funded by Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri (FFL/JA) and Grofondet AS, as well as the collaborative and financial partners A-K maskiner AS, Heatweed Technologies AS, Kilter AS, Norsk Landbruksrådgiving (NLR, Norwegian Agricultural Extension Service) and Norwegian producers of potatoes, field strawberries and apples. NLR Innlandet, NLR Vest, NLR Viken and NLR Øst also participate.

To reduce environmental and health risks by pesticides, authorities and growers seek alternative methods as part of integrated pest management (IPM). IPM has been mandatory since 2015 in Norway, and is based on 8 principles whereof non-chemical methods is one. The recent withdrawal of the desiccant Reglone (diquat) and the currently uncertain future of the widely used herbicide glyphosate (marketed as e.g. Roundup) cause serious challenges for Norwegian production of potatoes, strawberries and apples. The project SOLUTIONS will work on new solutions for: 1) Potato canopy desiccation, 2) Control of weeds and runners in field strawberries, and 3) Weed management in apple orchards. Measures to be tested are Bioherbicides, for example pelargonic acid and other organic acids; Thermal methods, for example hot water and electricity, alone or in combinations with current and new mechanical implements and newly approved products. SOLUTIONS will also work on two precision agriculture technologies: 1) Sensor-based dosing of new potato desiccant(s), and 2) Robot to control weeds and runners in field strawberries. The most critical R&D challenges faced in the project are reaching sufficient and reliable efficacies of the new agents and methods. For sensor-based dosing of desiccants, relying on satellite data in the visible spectrum might be a challenge due to clouds. For the robot, discriminating runners from objects like leaf stems of the strawberry mother plant may not be straightforward. SOLUTIONS is a 4-year project (2021-2024) coordinated by NIBIO - Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. It is funded by Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri and Grofondet AS. Collaborative and financial partners are Norsk Landbruksrådgiving, A-K maskiner AS, Heatweed Technologies AS, Kilter AS and Norwegian producers of potatoes, field strawberries and apples.

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FFL-JA-Forskningsmidlene for jordbruk og matindustri