The “Intergrated Weeds Management PRActical Implementation and Solutions for Europe” or “IWMPRAISE” project was launched in 2017, funded by the EU through the Horizon 2020 initiative. The project supports European and British top-fruit growers and vineyard managers to enhance their business sustainability and profitability by improving their weeds management technics and reduce the use of herbicides. The result of the research activities carried in the UK will be combined and compared with those obtained by the Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (CSIC) in Spain. The work carried by NIAB (the UK science partner) will be focused on vineyards and apple orchards whilst the work carried in Spain will be on olive orchards. The NIAB and CSIC have met in Cordoba in February 2018 to discuss and agree on the experimental plans and coordinate our efforts. This visit has been the occasion for NIAB scientists to understand more the practicalities and the constraints faced by olive growers to control weeds, the climates being very different between the two places.
The experimental plan does include the planting of a dedicated research vineyard plot that has been planted in May 2018. This plot will solely be used for the project and will be used to assess the different weeding technologies in a controlled plot. The work will combine the latest imaging technologies and crop performance assessments with weeds growth and development. This work will feed the different work packages and generate a unique dataset for the industry. The experiments include the use of mechanical weeding technologies and we have successfully approached the leading European manufacturer Clemens GmbH (Germany) that will supply different technologies to be assessed in the newly planted vineyard as well as established fruit orchards at NIAB EMR.
The experimental plan has been presented and discussed with the leading UK vineyards at the general meeting of the East Malling R&D Viticulture Consortium. The project has been as well publicised in the industry-body journal “the grape press”. The project will be presented to British top-fruit growers at an Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) technical meeting, with the date yet to be confirmed. The project will be one of the highlights of the next “Fruit Focus 2018” event, the fruit industry leading technical event in the United-Kingdom on the 25th of July 2018 (more details at http://www.fruitfocus.co.uk/). The NIAB researchers involved in the IWM PRAISE project will give a talk on the project and a tour of the experiments with live demonstrations of various mechanical weeding technologies. This will represent a unique opportunity to exchange with various stakeholders, industry partners, journalists and the general public. The first and early results will be regularly shared and discussed ith the UK national cluster, with a meeting to be held in January 2019.