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Effective Management of Pests and Harmful Alien Species - Integrated Solutions

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - EMPHASIS (Effective Management of Pests and Harmful Alien Species - Integrated Solutions)

Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2019-02-28

EMPHASIS (Effective Management of Pests and Harmful Alien Species – Integrated Solutions) addressed native and alien threats (insects, pathogens and weeds) in a range of both agricultural and natural ecosystems (field and protected crops, orchards, ornamental plants and forests).
The overall goal was to ensure a food security system in Europe and to promote the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the frameworks of agriculture, horticulture and forestry, by developing integrated response measures to predict and prevent native and alien threats. The effectiveness of the solutions were assessed, validated and transferred to ensure that they are in agreement with end-user needs and capacities.
The specific objectives were:
• To predict, prioritise and plan: pest and pathogen management challenges and opportunities were evaluated according to stakeholder-focused criteria and using pathway analyses.
• To prevent: end-users were provided with practical solutions and tools for pest and pathogen surveillance and monitoring.
• To protect: improved practical solutions and innovative integrated measures were developed, their technical and economic feasibility was demonstrated and their market uptake enhanced.
• To promote: a mutual learning process involving end-users.
PLANT HEALTH CHALLENGES AND EVALUATION: A method was created to allow technology developers to evaluate market opportunities based on national pest risk register analysis to compare existing and future pest risks. This allows industry and authorities to re-evaluate target species and to identify new market opportunities for technologists. A Learning Platform facilitated knowledge sharing and collaboration with stakeholders across the project. Evaluation was carried out through a survey in multiple languages. EMPHASIS outputs can contribute to minimise the negative impacts of pests and diseases.

PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS FOR SURVEILLANCE AND MONITORING: Targeted monitoring techniques (LAMP- loop mediated isothermal amplification), biological surveillance tools (sentinel plots and plants) and untargeted metagenomics surveillance techniques were developed. LAMP assays were developed and validated for several pathogens to provide species level detection and identification of target organisms. The Genie instrument was implemented with automated result calling, features of the user interface and wireless connectivity. Sentinel plots demonstrated success to provide an early warning in different systems. A method using the MinION platform (Oxford Nanopore) was found to be a promising alternative to meta-barcoding method to identify pests in complex samples.

PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS FOR PROTECTION, MANAGEMENT AND ERADICATION: Practical solutions for effective protection, management and eradication of native and alien threats. A pheromone puffer technique for codling moth (Cydia pomonella) was optimised. Two novel predatory bugs (Dicyphus bolivari and D. errans) have been tested in vegetables. RNAi entomopathogenic fungi, natural products and pesticides were tested against Bemisia tabaci, a pest of vegetable crops, and Sitobion avenae, an aphid that feeds on cereals. In conifers, some Phlebiopsis gigantea fungus isolates were tested for their antagonistic activity against Heterobasidion irregulare (invasive species) and H. annosum (native species). A user-friendly operational device for Heterobasidion spp. containment was developed and procedures to locally eradicate H. irregulare were identified. In wheat planting material some high level resistance to stem rust (Puccinia graminis tritici) was found, which could serve as the basis for resistance breeding. Results were made available to the Global Rust Reference Centre (Denmark). A scheme for predicting likely occurrence of wheat stem rust was produced.
In the winter cereal-oilseed rotation, crop debris is a major source of inoculum of two fungal diseases caused by Zymoseptoria tritici (Septoria tritici blotch of wheat) and Leptosphaeria maculans (stem canker of oilseed rape). From an applied perspective, agricultural practices should preserve and possibly enhance the balance that prevails in the global microbial community in crop residues. A practical guide for farmers and land managers on containment and eradication strategies for the invasive weeds Heracleum spp., Ambrosia artemisiifolia and Ailanthus altissima was developed, as well as a practical guide for growers on soil-borne pathogens, air-borne pathogens and Bemisia tabaci containment in protected vegetable crops. Ash varieties less susceptible or resistant to ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, previously Chalara fraxinea) were identified. A practical guide for oilseed rape producers was developed, which identifies cultural practices to be applied to reduce damage by seedling insects while preserving honey bees populations.

OPEN-ENDED MULTI-ACTOR ACTIVITIES (ON-FARM VALIDATION AND PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT): To allow the application of innovative practical solutions by end-users, advisory services, SMEs and farmer groups, on-farm validation experiments were carried out for: 1) Vegetable crops: use of two generalist predators belonging to the genus Dicyphus, resistance inducers, BCAs, compost and fertilizers against soil-borne pathogens; trials on basil to evaluate the best combination of cultural practices and foliar spray with salt based calcium oxide to control downy mildew. 2) Orchards: puffer technique to control codling moth (Cydia pomonella). 3) Forests: resistant varieties, BCAs, tree injections and other strategies to control Heterobasidion spp. and Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (Chalara fraxinea). 4) Arable crops: companion cropping and other strategies to manage seedling insects in oilseed rape. 5) Weeds: efficacy of selective herbicides against Heracleum spp., Ailanthus altissima, Ambrosia artemisiifolia. Open days, demonstrations, webinars and videos, training courses and field trainings were organised. A Model Business Plan was developed. Specific business plans for commercial/public implementation of selected innovations were made.

DISSEMINATION AND TRAINING: Results were spread to a wide public through leaflets and posters, a project website, White Papers, newsletters, email campaigns, social media and press articles. Webinars for a large specialized public, workshops with policy makers and with the scientific community, summer schools, seminars and exhibitions were organised. Training built up awareness and compliance with EMPHASIS practical solutions. Scientific articles in peer reviewed journal were published. A “Call for early adopters” of EMPHASIS solutions was promoted.
"EMPHASIS adopts the ""three-stage hierarchical approach"" advocated by the Convention on Biological Diversity with support measures based on identification of challenges, prioritisation of objectives, prevention and early detection and control and long-term containment.
• Effective solutions for the prevention and management of native and invasive alien pest and pathogen species;
• Scientific support for the development of relevant EU policies;
• Significant economic gains/avoided losses for European agricultural and forest systems;
• Science-based tools for improving the productivity and resilience of agricultural and forest systems in the context of changing environmental conditions;
• Impact on a range of agricultural and forest productions and risk management practices.