Reducing pesticide use doesn’t compromise crop productivity and profitability

Pesticide use has increased over the last years but it is known that pesticides can affect negatively the environment and human health. There are studies claiming that pesticides are necessary for controlling pests and ensuring food security. A recent study, published in the journal Nature Plants last month, analysed the data from 946 non-organic arable farms in France with different levels of pesticide use and covering a diversity of strategies for pest management and production situations. It was found that pesticide use could be reduced without a significant impact on profitability in 67% of the surveyed farms and in 11% of the farms, pesticide use reduction could even significantly increase profitability. It was estimated that total pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects on both productivity and profitability in 59% of the arable farms analysed. The results suggest that low pesticide use rarely decreases productivity and profitability and that pesticide use could be substantially reduced without any financial cost for most of the French arable farmers.