The French Ministry of Agriculture has released its guide on the appropriate, limited use of chemical pesticides on fruit products in orchards. The Ecophyto Fruit Guide is part of the French government’s overall Ecophyto plan to reduce and improve the use of pesticides and other chemicals on agricultural products in a move toward a more organic agricultural industry. The program’s ambition is to reduce overall pesticide use 50% by 2018.

The newly released guideline will help in reconceiving old strategies for protecting orchards during workshops, which are scheduled to last a half day, and also to serve as a teaching tool that can be kept and repeatedly consulted for continual education on chemical pesticide use in the orchards of France’s fruit industry.

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Under the coordination of the National Institute for Agronomic Research, 20 scientific and technical experts representing several different professional organizations participated in creating the Ecophyto Fruit Guide. A number of other experts and advisors were consulted on the project.

The Guide is composed of four different types of resources for fruit industry workers to use:

    1. A methodological component that presents the issues and concepts of integrated production, putting an emphasis on preventative actions to reduce orchards’ exposure to attacks from bioagressors.
    2. Guidance to help in implementing the methods
    3. Description of all the actions available to combat bioagressors for each species of fruit and ways to quickly evaluate the performance of the chosen system put in place.
    Description of currently available alternative methods in fruit production for different types of fruit grown in France.

The idea is to provide a large number of different preventative steps to take that reduce the need to use chemical pesticides on fruit products whenever possible by placing the use of chemicals at the end of a long series of steps to take to resolve whatever problem a fruit producer is facing.

The effort takes advantage of a huge array of tools from things as simple as using heat or creating effective physical barriers for predators, to much more complicated efforts like biological “warfare” between competing species, genetic manipulation and biotechnology. In using this wide variety of methods, in most cases the need to use chemical pesticides is dramatically reduced — or possibly even eliminated altogether.

With these ideas and steps in mind, fruit producers will be able to reduce their use of chemicals in an economical way without sacrificing the quality of their fruit products.

To learn more about the overall Ecophyto project:

The national action plan Ecophyto 2018 in English
Encouraging Results for the Ecophyto Plan for the Reduction of Pesticide Use