ANDREW BISHOPThe Swire Group Churchill Fellowship to investigate advanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, systems and adoption in Scandinavia with potential application in Australian horticulture - Denmark, Finland, Sweden
At 39 years of age, I was working with the Department of Primary Industries, Water, and Environment when I was awarded my sponsored Fellowship in 2001 for travel in 2002.
At the time I was leading a small team of scientists developing and demonstrating leading-edge crop production systems based on accepted principles of Integrated Pest Management. IPM is a dynamic system that coordinates all available methods to effectively control diseases, weeds, and insect pests in crops whilst reducing/eliminating environmental hazards. IPM has been described as socially acceptable, environmentally responsible, and economically practical crop protection.
The Fellowship enabled me to pursue some key work interests in relation to sustainable food crop production.
I undertook the Fellowship for eight weeks during June, July and August of 2002, and travelled to Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Holland and England. During this time my aims were to document and investigate advanced key IPM technologies that have been developed in Scandinavia in recent years, and to evaluate the use of computer-based decision support systems as part of IPM implementation in Australia.
I was fortunate as well that my wife Hilda was able to accompany me in my travels so we were able to share the adventure together. It was a life changing experience for both of us and I would highly recommend Fellows having their family join them in the experience if at all possible.
The three main objectives of my Fellowship were to:
- Document and investigate advanced key IPM technologies that have been developed in Scandinavia, Netherlands, and UK in recent years.
- Determine the value and logistics of initiating computer based decision support systems as part of IPM implementation.
- Assess the adoption of IPM in Scandinavia, Netherlands, and UK with relevance to Australian agriculture and horticulture.
In some regions of the world, such as Scandinavia, governments have legislated to reduce the use of pesticides, via strategic application. In these countries research into alternative technologies and systems to manage pests has been intense, as has the development of complete IPM systems. In countries such as Australia, drivers towards the adoption of IPM are tending to be market driven.
There is tremendous scope to source and adapt many of the IPM technologies developed in advanced IPM regions such as Scandinavia, for the benefit of Australia and our environment. IPM is being increasingly recognised by the Australian agricultural industry as an economic and environmentally sound approach to cropping, and Australian agriculture is interested in the application of advanced IPM technologies that may be sourced internationally.
FELLOWSHIP CONCLUSIONS & OUTCOMES
The Fellowship was an enormously satisfying experience that included an intensive program of discussions, site visits and information collection. It was also a great opportunity to spread the good word about Tasmania as hardly anyone I came across had heard about Tasmania.
I was particularly impressed with the success of Northern European pesticide reduction programs and also the extent of commercial low environmental impact technologies used by farmers on European farms.
Northern European farmers, particularly Danish and Swedish farmers, appear to be very innovative and adaptable to change. In many cases, they operate without the need for synthetic pesticides.
Attitudes to organic production were not as polarised in Northern Europe as they are in Tasmania. Rather than conventional farmers and organic farmers growing respective crop types, farmers grew crops both conventionally and organically as part of their single farming enterprise.
I was impressed with how truly ‘clean and green’ agricultural production was in Northern Europe, with committed governments and defined measures and strategies to reduce pesticide use, improve profit margins, and progress towards truly sustainable agricultural production.