As per the Tender Specifications, the objectives of the Pilot Project are translated in four (4) themes:

Theme 1:  Identification and assessment of effective practices and technologies to reduce dependency on the use of pesticides in the EU Union

This theme aims to establish a comprehensive and clear overview and analysis of the agricultural practices, techniques and technologies that have the potential and the capability to reduce dependency on pesticide use in the European Union. It shall identify and assess an exhaustive list of agricultural practices techniques and technologies that, as from 2010 onwards, have been found successful for reducing the dependency on pesticide use (e.g. agricultural practices, types of crops or combinations, new products) and that were applied in some regions of the EU (or non-EU countries) aiming to provide an exhaustive list of useful practices and promising technologies for the future.

In addition and for each Member State, this theme shall present data on pesticide trends and, when possible, classify them by cropping system, practices, and farm typology. Furthermore, it shall describe and analyse the evolution and current level of implementation of agricultural practices, techniques and technologies in each of the Member States as well as assess their effectiveness. It shall also map and describe the targets or indicators Member States set about a reduced risk of pesticide use and/or IPM implementation. 

As regards the IPM, this theme shall analyse whether and how Member States transpose the SUD and, in particular, IPM related requirements (Article 14 of the SUD) into operational rules that are sufficiently clear for farmers. It should also describe the legal instruments and/or guidelines existing at national level, examine to what extent these guidelines are clear for farmers and highlight potential gaps in the implementation precluding achieving the Directive’s objectives. Furthermore, this theme should describe and analyse how Member State authorities and/or other relevant stakeholders help farmers in the application of IPM rules at farm level across the Union, through support measures, advice, technical support, trainings, and creation of professional networks.

Eventually, based on the analysis of National Action Plans (NAPs) and Commission audits reports, as well as of other sources of information, this theme shall develop a typology and “classify” Member States comparing the level of implementation regarding IPM related requirements.

Theme 2: Estimation of the potential to reduce dependency on pesticide use and its key drivers and barriers

This theme should assess the potential for reducing dependency on pesticide use, elaborate the requirements to make it feasible, and identify the key factors to achieve the maximum implementation.

It shall report and describe the principal drivers and barriers which can influence farmers to reduce the dependency on pesticide use. This theme aims to identify factors that have an impact on farmers’ decisions. They can be triggering a positive systemic change to reduce the dependency of pesticide use or discourage farmers from changing by keeping operations business-as-usual. In this context, the following non-exhaustive list of questions shall be considered:

  • Are alternative products, technologies and advisory services available to farmers or not? Which ones? To which extent?
  • Does reduction of dependency on pesticide use represent extra costs and labour? If so, how much?
  • Is there a risk of reduced yield when decreasing pesticide dosage or use and/or using low-risk products? If yes, to which extent. Does it vary depending on climatic conditions and on crops? Does it vary depending on the availability of different crop protection alternatives? How do farmers perceive the risk and how does this influence their decision-making? What is the potential for insurance schemes that could buffer against such risks?
  • Is there a link between the level of uptake and the farmers’ age, level of education, and training?
  • Which are the factors that determine variability in uptake related to the type of crop?
  • Is collective action more efficient? Is it needed? (a comparison between various sectors is expected)
  • Are systemic approaches at the regional/local level useful to assist farmers’ decisions for reducing the dependency on pesticide use (e.g., weather bulletins, pest modelling, warning systems, beneficial organisms)? Is there a knowledge transfer pattern from those sectors using less or low-risk pesticides towards the conventional farming sector? If so, which elements are more likely to have an impact?
  • How can other drivers (existing or to be developed) facilitate the reduction of dependency on pesticide use by farmers? Which ones are the most effective?
  • Are farmers who implement IPM practices more likely to introduce other beneficial practices for soil and water? Are there other side effects?

Theme 3: Assessment of how public bodies, private certification schemes, and other strategies are contributing to the reduction of the dependency on pesticide use

This theme shall analyse the extent to which the existing policies at EU and Member State’s levels contribute to the reduction of the dependency on pesticide use as well as to which extent the approaches used by Member States or other incentives adequately consider the needs of farmers. Where relevant, the analysis should consider the different situations according to the cropping system, practices applied, and farm typology. It should clearly elaborate the tools used by Member States to achieve the objective of reducing dependency on pesticide use, as well as the potential of new CAP instruments.

For describing the appropriateness of the mentioned instruments the following non-exhaustive list of questions shall be considered:
Which are the main factors affecting the difference in the implementation among Member States or regions, and by cropping system/farm typology where relevant?

  • To which degree can different factors, such as market preferences or public opinion, influence the reduction of dependency on pesticide use? E.g. is it possible that consumers have an impact on agricultural practices though their purchase choices?
  • How does the CAP contribute to reducing the dependency on pesticide use?
  • Which other policies (above the CAP) contribute to this change?

This description shall also include an assessment of the (potential) effects of private sector certification schemes (e.g. “zero pesticides” label, “integrated production” label, “zero residues”) and of their expansion potential.

Theme 4: Strategies on how to scale up good practices throughout the EU

This theme shall analyse how to encourage and promote change in the approaches towards pesticide use. It should formulate specific strategies on how to scale up good practices thereby particularly addressing the following aspects provide suggestions for actions in particular:

  • How to encourage a change in the current agricultural practices and promote lower dependency on pesticide use In particular, how to favour the use of new methods, techniques and technologies.
  • How to foster cooperation between Member States (exchanging practices and making use of the EU-wide database).
  • How to implement CAP instruments effectively to reduce the dependency on pesticide use and how to ensure coherence with other incentives (existing or to be developed) facilitating the reduction of dependency on pesticide use by farmers.
  • How to improve knowledge and research transfer among sectors (e.g. experience from organic farming, permaculture) and how to integrate it into conventional farming when it decreases the use of pesticides.