Promising results for NOVATERRA Decision Support System

One of the key objectives of NOVATERRA is to develop an advanced Decision Support System (DSS) for managing olive trees and grapevines’ pests and diseases, providing support in the decision-making process for crop managers (extension agents, consultants or growers). In the field of crop protection, a DSS can assist in both strategic and tactical decisions turning in more targeted interventions, increase of treatment efficacy and improve in sustainability of the operations. DSSs integrate several information sources, collecting, analysing and interpreting the information in order to recommend the most appropriate action by mean of expert knowledge, mathematical models and timely data. User friendly interfaces and actionable data can help high innovative as well as low innovative farmers adopt the use of these new systems.

Within NOVATERRA’s Work Package 3, a new DSS has been developed for peacock spot in olive groves, as well as for powdery and downy mildew in vineyards. The DSS passed the first validations in the field with real farmers during the 2022 season in different viticulture areas in Europe (Spain, Portugal and France). The validation of peacock spot risk determination was planned in Myrolion olive oil producer (Greece) but adverse climate conditions did not allow presence of the disease for 2022 and the validation was postponed until the season 2023.

Four low innovative farmers were selected in Spain, and their conventional practices and calendar-based determination of pest management was compared against the DSS risk evaluation. Conversely, in France and Portugal, high innovative farmers used to utilise disease risk models for the selection of best dates for crop protection where selected. In France, IFV compared the NOVATERRA DSS with Sulphur renewal strategy, the DSS Décitrait and a control vineyard without powdery mildew protection. Similarly, SOGRAPE in Portugal, compared the NOVATERRA DSS against ADVID, a well-accepted DSS used in the Douro region.

The performance of the DSS developed in NOVATERRA showed promising results when compared with well-known local models in France and Portugal and more data is going to be acquired during season 2023 to confirm the robustness of the risk alerts provided and quantify the potential PPP reduction.

Results from studies conducted in Spain revealed that low-innovative farmers might reduce their reliance on PPP by up to 42% in the best case scenario. While the NOVATERRA DSS recommended only 3 treatments based on the risk evaluation of disease dispersion, two of the four farms included in the validation experiments used 4 and 5 treatments for Powdery Mildew during the season 2022. It is significant to note that the season of 2022 was very dry, allowing the protective agents employed to stay in the leaves for a longer period of time. Potential reduction of treatments could increase in seasons where Powdery mildew incidence might be higher. 

By Fran Garcia, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya