Innovative design and management to boost functional biodiversity of organic orchards (EcoOrchard)
Project code: 2814OE005
Contract period: 01.01.2015 - 28.02.2019
Budget: 172,798 Euro
Purpose of research: Applied research
Keywords: beneficial insects, habitat management, flower stripes, pome, codling moth
Orchards are perennial cultures, and especially in organic fruit production it is essential to design and manage orchards in a way which favours beneficials such as insect predators and parasitoids over pests and diseases. As landscape-dominating crops their management affects overall biodiversity in the agricultural landscape. Increasing plant biodiversity and habitats in such a way that beneficials are favoured is called functional biodiversity or Functional Agro-Biodiversity (FAB). The value of FAB for reducing pesticide use in fruit production is generally acknowledged, and many organic fruit growers try to increase it. However, they lack information about how the taken functional biodiversity measures may indeed contribute to FDB. Motivation is also negatively affected by the fact that they encounter many difficulties or fail completely due to various economical and technical reasons and by lack of situation-specific, detailed advice. To improve this unsatisfactory situation, ECOORCHARD is combining several complementary and very goal-oriented approaches: (i) identifying and compiling still “unknown” methods already implemented by fruit growers to increase FAB in EU countries (WP 1); (ii) elaborating suitable methods for collaborative application to monitor FAB on-farm and in scientific trials (WP 2); (iii) conducting collaborative scientific trials in WP 3 with focus on the quantification of the effect of a new approach to install FAB-boosting flower strips in the tree row (Sandwich system) and in the inter rows (BTW-strips) and (iv)the activities in WP 4 are devoted to learning from each other and dissemination. The different on-farm sites, scientific trials and a web-based stakeholder platform to collect and share information (made in WP 1) are important elements to bring the collected experiences and scientific results very directly to the organic fruit growers.
The European project EcoOrchard intends to collect, assess and test methodology for enhancing functional biodiversity in organic fruit growing. A online portal was created to connect stakeholders in fruit growing with interest in functional biodiversity. In several participating countries (Dk, S, BE, D, PL, CH, I) a field trial is conducted to evaluate perennial flower strips for their suitability to favour beneficial insects for biocontrol. First establishment of flowering plants was achieved on the German field site and flowering is expected in 2017. Furthermore, practical testing of methods to detect and assess functional biodiversity in orchards was performed in cooperation with growers.