FEATURED INFORMATION

Agroecological Infrastructure

Georgina Alins Valls

IRTA - Institute for Food and Agricultural Research and Technology

In recent decades, intensification of agriculture has led to an expanding number of monocultures with little self-regulating capacity. Creating agroecological infrastructure in a holding may enhance agroecosystem wealth and diversity and foster biological control of specific pests.

Agroecological infrastructure consists of features with no direct productive use but which provide services to the agroecosystem. Infrastructure thus comprises many elements of the surrounding environment, including adjacent fields or uncultivated areas (such as forests, moorlands, water channels, or stone  walls).

In recent decades, intensification of agriculture has led to an expanding number of monocultures with little self-regulating capacity. Creating agroecological infrastructure in a holding may enhance agroecosystem wealth and diversity and foster biological control of specific pests.

Agroecological infrastructure consists of features with no direct productive use but which provide services to the agroecosystem. Infrastructure thus comprises many elements of the surrounding environment, including adjacent fields or uncultivated areas (such as forests, moorlands, water channels, or stone  walls). It also comprises specific farm elements such as hedges, vegetation cover, strips of flowering plants, and bird or bat nests. Ecological infrastructure is created on a farm to address specific needs: to shelter trees from the wind or from plant protection product contamination, to reduce soil erosion, or to attract beneficial fauna and foster its action.

Fruit tree orchards, unlike fields where grain or vegetables are grown, can have over 70% of their surface area allocated to agroecological infrastructure. Typically, trees take up a band 1 to 1.5 meters wide - the width of the strip of land immediately beneath the tree rows, which is kept vegetation-free. The rest of the plot surface consists of aisles and borders, and this is where infrastructure can be placed.

Aisles can hold vegetation cover and strips of flowering plants. Most sweet fruit orchards contain vegetation cover; its main role is to prevent soil erosion and allow machinery to move through the field even after heavy rainfall. Vegetation cover species are mostly the ones that grow spontaneously. However, encouraging beneficial fauna requires seeding of species that can attract natural enemies of pests and withstand the passage of farm machines.

Flowers, on the other hand, are purposely placed in order to increase the presence of beneficial fauna and enhance biological control of certain pests. Flowers may be laid out in strips along the lanes, adjacent to the tree rows, or along the plot borders. Plot borders can also be used for hedges to increase the presence of beneficial fauna, to shelter fruit trees from the wind, or as a barrier against PPP spray drift.

Plants for agroecological infrastructure should be selected according to entomological and agronomic aspects as well as soil and climate. An awareness of how beneficial fauna interacts with local plant life in the area to be protected is crucial, so that species actually conducive to an increase in natural enemies can be selected. It is important to ensure that species introduced into the farm do not compete with the crop and are neither habitual nor alternative hosts for its pest insects or diseases. Moreover, the plant species chosen need to adapt well to local soil and climate conditions, so local species are to be preferred to ensure successful planting.

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In accordance with the Organic Law on the Protection of Personal Data 15/1999, of 13 December, Promotora de Exportaciones Catalanas SA (hereinafter PRODECA), whose address is Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, 620, principal, 08007 Barcelona, with tax reg. no. NIF A58241316, declares that the images contained on the website www.smartfruitcongress.cat are included in a file belonging to PRODECA. The purpose of this file is the promotion, via its website, of the activities conducted by PRODECA – SmartfFruit IPM International Congress.

PRODECA guarantees that you may, at any time, exercise your right to access, rectify, cancel or oppose by writing to the aforesaid postal address, using the reference "PROTECCIÓN DE DATOS - SMARTFRUIT", or to the email address smartfruitcongress@smartfruitcongress.cat.

Specifically, to correctly exercise these rights you must clearly provide the following items in that communication:
- Name, surname(s) and photocopy of National Identity Document or Passport.
- Statement of the purpose of the request.
- Address for notification purposes.
PRODECA also declares that it reserves the right to delete from its website any content that it considers violates current and applicable legislation.

D’acord amb l’article 17.1 de la Llei 19/2014, la ©Generalitat de Catalunya permet la reutilització dels continguts i de les dades sempre que se'n citi la font i la data d'actualització i que no es desnaturalitzi la informació (article 8 de la Llei 37/2007) i també que no es contradigui amb una llicència específica.