Service Systems for Pesticide Application: A Concept for Establishing
Next to fertilization and soil cultivation the use of chemically based pesticides to protect corps from natural pest, is a wide spread means of sustaining crop health in both conventional and integrated agriculture. Economic efficiency is undoubtedly a major attribute of chemical pesticide use. Whereas the negative effects of chemical pesticide use are: the contamination of the natural environment with chemical substances, the offset of the ecological balance of the surrounding ecosystem and the health hazards faced by the applicants of the pesticides. Due to the negative effects of chemical pesticides, it is socially viable to pursue innovative ideas that can reduce its application.
One measure to reduce chemical pesticide use is based on the application of highly efficient technologies used by pesticide management service providers. This concept would see a pesticide management service provider offering a variety of pesticide services, starting from crop analysis, through diagnosis of infected plants up to spraying the fields with pesticides, using highly efficient and accurate apparel. The basic idea behind this concept is the eco-efficient use of resources. This means a reduction in the use of resources at equal or at best increasing value for the customer.
There are numerous reasons for farmers to take advantage of services offered in the field of pesticide management. One reason is the constant change in the judicial framework concerning the application of chemical pesticides, which increases the complexity of the matter. Another one is the expertise with which a pesticide management provider can fulfil his/her duty. Other reasons are related to the part time farmers, who can not accommodate the time consuming pesticide management activities in their everyday lives. Negative sentiments confronting this concept claim that prices for this service are relatively high compared to the "do-it-yourself" alternative, where personal contributions of the farmer are apparently not remunerated. A second concern for the potential customer is trust in the service provider, which seems to be lacking when it comes to outsourcing a delicate procedure like pesticide management.
The main goal of the project Serplant Pro was to survey and to illustrate what a pesticide management service concept might look like, and whether or not this concept can be implemented in practice. In consideration of this goal it was necessary to investigate the chances supporting and barriers opposing this concept. Additionally, the concept's critical factors for success, such as questions of liability and quality management, have been studied in order to facilitate the transfer from theory to the actual application.
The project's starting point concentrated on a detailed analysis of the actual situation. This analysis comprised of two parts. One concentrated on research in the field of Product-Service-Systems, on which the development of pesticide management services can be based. Centrepiece of the Product-Service-Systems theory is the replacement of produced material products by implementing product life extension, use-based (sharing, pooling) and functional selling measures. The immediate effects of such product replacing measures would be the decrease in resource utilization and furthermore a net benefit for to the natural environment. In context to pesticide management, a Product-Service-System concept would decrease the amount of pesticide required for the same area whilst requiring less equipment for this task.
In a second step, it was important to study existing and ready implemented best practice examples. The examples range from agricultural Product-Service-Systems to specific pesticide management services.
In order to facilitate the implementation of pesticide management services, great attention has been paid to the analysis of the stakeholders. Incorporating their requirements and opinions with respect to the concept, makes the success of pesticide management services more likely. As a result, an empirical study concerning Austrian stakeholders in the field of pesticide management was launched, in order to consider their requirements when devising the concept.
After having surveyed the actual situation and having gathered stakeholder opinions the innovative pesticide management service concept was developed. Apart from describing the concept's design and advantages, it was of great importance to divide the pesticide management service concept into modules to make it appealing to a wide range application. In addition to this, parameters concerning liability issues, contractual arrangements etc. had to be considered.
In order to spread the results of this project amongst stakeholders, e.g. affected farmers, service providers, pesticide management engineers etc., a guideline comprised of the most important findings gathered throughout this project has been distributed. The guideline also includes details of existing agricultural services. This was done to ensure that the project's target groups are made aware of the pesticide management services. In a far reaching attempt to attain increasing popularity for the concept of pesticide management services, institution like the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture, the agricultural Machine Union, and different lobbies etc. have been integrated in this project.
ao. Univ.-Prof. DI Dr. Stefan Vorbach
Institut für Innovations- und Umweltmanagement