Agriculture in the twenty-first century faces the challenge of meeting food demands while satisfying sustainability goals. The challenge is further complicated by climate change which affects the distribution of crop pests (intended as insects, plants, and pathogenic agents injurious to crops) and the severity of their outbreaks. Increasing concerns over health and the environment as well as new legislation on pesticide use, particularly in the European Union, urge us to find sustainable alternatives to pesticide-based pest management. Here, we review the effect of climate change on crop protection and propose strategies to reduce the impact of future invasive as well as rapidly evolving resident populations. The major points are the following: (1) the main consequence of climate change and globalization is a heightened level of unpredictability of spatial and temporal interactions between weather, cropping systems, and pests; (2) the unpredictable adaptation of pests to a changing environment primarily creates uncertainty and projected changes do not automatically translate into doom and gloom scenarios; (3) faced with uncertainty, policy, research, and extension should prepare for worst-case scenarios following a “no regrets” approach that promotes resilience vis-à-vis pests which, at the biophysical level, entails uncovering what currently makes cropping systems resilient, while at the organizational level, the capacity to adapt needs to be recognized and strengthened; (4) more collective approaches involving extension and other stakeholders will help meet the challenge of developing more robust cropping systems; (5) farmers can take advantage of Web 2.0 and other new technologies to make the exchange of updated information quicker and easier; (6) cooperation between historically compartmentalized experts in plant health and crop protection could help develop anticipation strategies; and (7) the current decline in skilled crop protection specialists in Europe should be reversed, and shortcomings in local human and financial resources can be overcome by pooling resources across borders.
Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2015, Vol 35, Issue 2, p. 443-459
climate change; European network; integrated pest management; pest evolution; research priority sustainable agriculture