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Ökologischer Betrieb
© BLE, Bonn/Thomas Stephan
Ökologischer Betrieb
Institute of

BW Farm Economics


Possibilities for reducing the use of pesticides in arable farming

Involved Institutes BW Institute of Farm Economics

Corn plants a few weeks after sowing
© Thünen-Institut/Michael Welling
Corn plants a few weeks after sowing

Possibilities for reducing the use of pesticides in arable farming

Common crop protection strategies in arable farming are increasingly losing their effect as resistance to grass, insects and fungi spreads in many intensive arable areas. This leads to rising costs and changes in production systems. At the same time, the benefits and dangers of plant protection are critically discussed in society. Alternatives to chemical crop protection such as mechanical weeding are already available but are usually associated with higher costs. Against this background, the project aims to find out how the use of pesticides can be reduced as efficiently as possible.  

Background and Objective

In other European countries, strict reduction targets for plant protection have been introduced which are to be achieved with the help of various political instruments such as taxes, quotas or agri-environmental programmes. However, the effectiveness of these instruments must be critically questioned. Against this background, this project aims to investigate how the use of plant protection products in Germany can be reduced as cost-effectively as possible. At the same time, it will be investigated what consequences this would have for the design of production systems in arable farming. Furthermore, it has to be clarified whether the existing policy instruments are suitable for implementing the reduction potentials that are efficient from the point of view of production technology or whether other approaches might be more suitable.


  1. Economic evaluation of test results on reduction possibilities of pesticides in arable farming
  2. Expert talks with consultants
  3. Calculation of costs for adapted pesticide strategies of typical arable farms
  4. Focus group discussions with farmers on whether measures identified can be implemented
  5. Evaluation of existing policy instruments

Our Research Questions

  1. Which political instruments can be used to reduce the use of pesticides in german arable farming on a sustainable basis and how can this be controlled in a justiciable manner?
  2. Which changes in crop rotation, production systems and mechanisation must be made in order to achieve the required objectives?
  3. How do different reduction scenarios affect the economic situation of the regionally typical arable farms under consideration?


Based on literature reviews, a reduction of pesticide use does not necessarily lead to declining yields or reduced gross margins. On the contrary: in particular through a variety-individual management in the fungicide application, as well as a reduction in herbicidal application rates in combination with other agricultural measures such as the expansion of crop rotation, it can be seen that the economic efficiency can be increased. Likewise, adjusted production systems such as belt spraying in sugar beet can reduce the use of pesticides at constant costs per hectare.

Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • global networks (gUG)
    (Braunschweig, Deutschland)


8.2018 - 10.2022

More Information

Project status: finished

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