Pesticide residues are the most important food-related concern for EU citizens, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced that more than 97.4% of food products contain pesticide residues. Thus, reducing the use of pesticides in fruit production is a major global societal challenge and it is in line with EU Directive 2009/128/EC, demanding integrated pest management, as well as with Directive 2016/2031/EC, which requires that a proportionate and effective response to plant health threats is established through a combination of technological, ecological and institutional management. Still, pesticide overuse is widespread and imprecise application causes serious health problems and dangerous pest resistance. Large parts of conventional spraying equipment are still highly inefficient, with over 50% of pesticides not reaching the target organisms. Instead they contaminate the environment, with considerable negative effects for biodiversity, bees, bystanders, and the ecosystem as a whole. Recent Air Blast H3O sprayers, on the other hand, allow precise treatments according to vegetation characteristics and other parameters, which translates into reductions in pesticides use of around 25%.
The LIFE - F3 project aims to demonstrate the implementation of Pulverizadores FEDEs highly-efficient advanced pesticide sprayer and computer cloud technology in a Spanish vineyard and a Portuguese olive plantation, to achieve reductions in the use of biocidal products and/or pesticides by over 25% compared to standard pesticide application methods.
Specifically, the project also aims to: 1) reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced in vineyards and olive plantations with the use of FEDEs innovative Air Blast H30 spraying technology, which precisely adapts to field zone and plant conditions. This adaption lowers the amount of air used as a transport vehicle and, consequently, it lowers the power consumed by the sprayer, reflected in lower tractor fuel consumption; 2) transnationally replicate the demonstration to obtain significant positive environmental impacts at global level, through a newly-created dealer certification programme that allows machinery dealers to quickly learn to set up and support digital precision agriculture machinery and services. Success metrics are to have at least three certified dealers outside of Spain and Portugal and three agricultural exploitations using LIFE-F3 technology at project end; and 3) make LIFE-F3 sustainable in the long-term for all project partners. For the agricultural partners ELAIA and VERA this will be through financial savings due to pesticide and fuel consumption reductions. For the distribution partners MOZ and VIBASA, as well as for the technology innovator partner FEDE, sustainability will be reached via margins on related technology sales. Success metrics are to have financial sustainability demonstrated for each partner at project end backed by solid financial data.