With the long-term view of reducing and eventually eliminating the use of synthetic herbicides in European agriculture, AGROSUS aims to unfold and introduce improved holistic agroecological strategies (AS), co-created with all relevant actors, for the transformation of weed management for a broad range of crops in all the 11 different European biogeographic regions, while increasing the delivery of ecosystem services and accompanying farmers in the new strategies adoption. Alternative weed management strategies will imply a paradigm change in the current agriculture, implementing a holistic approach that keeps an eye on the ecosystem instead of on the plant alone.
AGROSUS aims to provide crop management tools implementing techniques that allow sustainable, fair, and safe weed management in conventional, organic, and mixed farming systems, as well as fostering farmers’ acceptance.
The specific objectives are associated with the main project Key Performance Indicators (KPI), Research Outputs (RO), and Expected Results (ER).
O1. To build local networks, i.e. Regional Stakeholder Communities (RSC) and their Crop-Linked Groups (CLG) around each experimental unit
Covering the 11 biogeographic regions for co-creation and co-validation activities targeting the best AS to be implemented in AGROSUS. KPI1: creation of 14 RSC and 24 CLGs including at least 500 stakeholders (e.g farmers, advisors, agroindustry, policymakers, etc.) participating in surveys and events (interviews, workshops, and focus and discussion groups); RO1: data and conclusions from interviews and workshops; ER1: stakeholder network actively participating in the decision and adoption of the AS. [WP2].
O.2. To identify the most problematic weeds for key European crops (arable, horticultural and perennial) and the problems encountered by farmers in weed management at the 11 biogeographic regions of Europe
O3. To expand the knowledge and built capacities about the optimal and innovative combinations of agroecological weeding strategies already in use
O4. To increase farm digitalization by defining methods and protocols for early weed detection practices
To increase farm digitalization by defining methods and protocols for early weed detection practices (i.e., multispectral analyses, automated sampling, sectorized weed management), aiming at prevention and sectorized management. Data acquired automatically will be stored and curated on the cloud in restricted and open access repositories with FIWARE (https://www.fi-ppp.eu/). KPI4: two robot prototypes and two drones tested in 8 crops. RO4: data on prototypes performance and efficacy. ER4: Demonstrative videos about robots and drones´ potential for weed management targeted to farmers and advisors. [WP3].
O5. To evaluate the agronomic potential of the proposed optimal combinations for crop- and weed-specific AA
To evaluate the agronomic potential of the proposed optimal combinations for crop- and weed-specific AA in 83 short, medium, and long-term farm systems, for 30 different crops in the 11 biogeographic regions, in comparison with the use of synthetic herbicides to manage weeds, but also to enhance biodiversity, improve crop production and quality, and foster the delivery of other ecosystem services in cropping systems. KPI5: validation of holistic AA to reduce 50% the use of synthetic herbicides while increasing other ecosystem services by 10% as a mean. RO5: data on crop production and quality and delivery of soil ecosystem services. ER5: Reports on AA agronomic potential and delivery of ecosystem services (D4.1 and D4.2). [WP4].
O6. To assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of combined strategies for AE weed management
To assess the environmental and socio-economic impacts of combined strategies for AE weed management in comparison with classical chemical weed management, taking into account farms` profitability, to demonstrate that the proposed AA can contribute to reducing the use of synthetic herbicides while reducing environmental impact and production costs, but with higher socioeconomic added value, farmer wellbeing, and social and consumers´ acceptance. KPI6: validation of environmental impact, and economic and social costs and benefits of the proposed AA. RO6: data on assessment of environmental impact, and economic and social impacts. ER6: Reports on AA environmental, economic, and social impacts (D 5.2, D5.3 and D5.4). ER7: Stakeholder’s recommendations for AA implementation in European agriculture (D5.5 and D5.6). [WP5].
O7. To initialize a real change in weed management across Europe through the evaluation of regulatory principles and best policies
To initialize a real change in weed management across Europe through the evaluation of regulatory principles and best policies, by increasing acceptance, mutual learning and incorporating local knowledge through the establishment of effective processes of continuous knowledge exchange between both parties: tacit knowledge from farmers and actors to the project and scientific knowledge gained translated to farmers, in a continuous loop (stakeholders engagement, communication, dissemination and exploitation strategy). So, AGROSUS will engage with all stakeholders in the value chain (researchers, policy makers, farmers, advisors, suppliers, agroindustry, etc.) following a multi-actor approach. KPI7: End-users acceptance through qualitative surveys by 90% in discussion groups (>60), training sessions (>14) and other events (>18). ER8: network with stakeholders to foster agroecological management acceptance through identification, discussion, and eventual policy changes to favour AA. [WP2, WP6].