In 2015, integrated pest management became mandatory in Norwegian grain production. It has been an eye-opener for Norwegian grain farmers.
Knowledge of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) has been increasing since 2015. This is reflected in two surveys concerning Norwegian grain farmers, carried out by NIBIO in 2014 and in 2017/18. While 22 percent responded that they had a good understanding of the concept in 2014, 50 percent had a good understanding in 2017/18.
The emphasis on using alternative methods rather than spraying against weeds and insects has grown. Now, there is increased focus on preventing pesticide resistance and producing grain that does not contain traces of pesticides.
In the survey from 2017/18, 41 percent of the grain farmers responded that they were practicing Integrated Pest Management to a greater degree than before, while 55 percent said they were practicing it to the same degree as they were before it became mandatory. However, according to the 2014-survey, Norwegian grain farmers were already then using many of the IPM-principles in their practice. The farmers who had increased their use of IPM reported that the measures most frequently adopted were need‐based spraying (e.g., monitoring, reduced dosage), preventive measures (e.g., crop rotation, tolerant crop, and soil tillage), and preventing pesticide resistance.
According to the new regulations, farmers are required to record the assessments they make relating to IPM when they spray pesticides. Some are frustrated by the additional paperwork. Others believe it raises more awareness.
Some farmers were uncertain about what is actually required from them regarding IPM and what kind of penalties that could be implemented. The EU is working on revising the regulations concerning use of pesticides to make them more concrete and enforceable.
Integrated pest management (IPM) was introduced in the 1960s as a response to increasing pesticide use and has since evolved from being understood mainly as an economic issue to also including environmental and human health considerations. The EU has made IPM mandatory for all farmers through the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD). Using a mixed-methods approach, this paper examines how Norwegian cereal farmers have responded to this requirement. The qualitative results show that most farmers have an understanding of IPM that goes beyond economic considerations only. The quantitative results display that farmers’ intrinsic motivation for IPM changed after introduction of the SUD. There is increased emphasis on using methods other than spraying, producing grain without traces of pesticides, and preventing pesticide resistance. Farmers’ self-reported knowledge of IPM increased, and 41% of farmers stated that they use IPM to a greater extent than before the SUD was introduced. These results demonstrate that mandatory IPM requirements have been a successful strategy for increasing farmers use of IPM in Norway. Clearer IPM provisions and increased intrinsic motivation for IPM among farmers will, however, be important to reduce the risks from pesticides further.