Improved nutrient use efficiency in horticulture

The network will focus on efficiency of nutrient management and fertilisation under horticultural crops (greenhouse grown and open field vegetables, and fruit). Novel approaches for improved fertiliser efficiency (at least NPK) will be demonstrated with mineral and organic fertilizers. Soil or drain laboratory analyses will be combined with sensor based approaches such as Geographic Information System (GIS). Crop rotation and sources of available nutrients,distinct from fertiliser, will be included. For conventional fertilisation, the focus will be on a) Decision Support Systems (DSS) that calculate daily fertiliser requirements and b) fertilisation based on sensing/monitoring. For organic fertilisation, the demonstrated techniques include the integrated cultivation of crop plant between, respectively in the fruit tree rows in existing orchards as well as using of different cover crops before planting new orchards and best application of special manure spreaders and compost.

Water use efficiency in horticulture

Irrigation is used throughout the EU on 23 Mha and represents 30% of EU water use, being 80% in drier countries. Appreciably improved water use in horticulture is required because of competing demands for limited water supplies and the need to minimise degradation of water resources through overexploitation, and addition of nutrients and plant protection products (PPPs). For objective 1, two integrated approaches will be demonstrated: (1) determination of crop water requirements using farmer-friendly Decision Support Systems and (2) monitoring approaches e.g. soil sensors, remote sensing. For objective 2, three approaches will be demonstrated: 1) outdoor soilless and/or semi protected cropping systems, 2) Zero Liquid Discharge from soilless greenhouse crop, and 3) removal of nutrients and PPPs from discharge water. For both objectives, procedures to improve supply water quality and the use of different water sources will be demonstrated e.g. water collection from greenhouse roofs and outdoor basins, and reuse of urban water.

Pesticide use reduction in the production of grapes, fruits and vegetables

Even if treatments are sometimes necessary, solutions for reducing the use of chemical pesticides, diminishing the impact on human health and environment, exist. Besides, proposing new models of IPM and advanced organic production need to take into account some different approaches: (i) efficiency in the pest control; (ii) economy balance and competitiveness, (iii) social and organizational barriers; and (iv) strategies to the implementation. Technically, the focus will be on 1) monitoring approaches (sensors and mathematical models) ; 2) organic or biocontrol products in adapted strategies; 3) resistant varieties for the main diseases; 4) prophylaxis methods; 5) quality of spray; and 6) organizational design and mechanisms put in place to ensure efficient and effective information flows and exchanges between end users. Different methods will be combined for the same crop.