Challenges and opportunities for increasing the use of low-risk plant protection products in sustainable production. A review

There is an urgent need for plant production systems to use more sustainable plant protection solutions with less conventional pesticides. While low-risk plant protection products are promising alternatives, the availability of these products remains low on the European market. Here, we summarize challenges and opportunities for increasing these products and define knowledge gaps related to their efficiency, application, and economics.

Lankinen, Å., Witzell, J., Aleklett, K. et al. Challenges and opportunities for increasing the use of low-risk plant protection products in sustainable production. A review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 44, 21 (2024).

Reviewer acknowledgments—ASD 2023

The editors-in-chief would like to sincerely thank all the reviewers who ensured the rigorous, considerate, and constructive evaluations of articles submitted to ASD during the year 2023. Through your voluntary work and the sharing of your skills, you have raised our standards, highlighted the novelty of research, encouraged authors to clarify their messages, removed uncertainties in data processing, and opened up new avenues of discussion. Your conscientious work has improved the scientific quality of the published research articles, reviews, and meta-analyses, rendering the journal more attractive to its readers. All this has enabled the journal to consolidate its metrics and to emerge in 2023 as the leading journal in agronomy.

H Abdelrahman, F Accatino, S J Acquah, M Acutis, N Aguilar-Rivera, A Ahmad, A B Ahmad Khair, M Ahmed, V Alarcón Segura, V Alfano, B Allema, L Alletto, M Alonso-Ayuso, N Andrieu, V Angeon, D Antichi, J Antle, D Aristide, S Avosani, A Ayantunde, J Bacenetti, M Barbercheck, P Baret, A Bargaz, E Barilli, M Beecher, L Bell, M Bell, R Bell, D Bellouin, P S Bindraban, X Bo Zhou, C Bockstaller, P Bogusz, B Bomfim, F Bonini da Luz, P Bosnic, C Brock, T Bruulsema, Z Brym, I Buesa, R Buresh, J Bürger, P Burgess, M Busse, M Carozzi, V Castillo, T Cavagnaro, D Cavalli, S Ceccarelli, A Cerevkova, V Chable, I Chahal, C Charatsari, J-D Charrière, B Chauvel, S F da S Chaves, B Chávez-Vergara, M Chen, J Chen, M Chevelev-Bonatti, P Chidambaranathan, A Cirujeda, P Clerino, C Clermont-Dauphin, C Collins, C Colnenne-David, C Compagnone, S Cook, S Cordeau, M Corson, M Croci, K Crowley, T Dalhaus, S M M Dandan, I Darnhofer, S. Das, A J Daymond, E De Olde, N de Roo, P Debaeke, B Dedieu, S Dehyouri, A Del Prado, H Deshmukh, C Di Bene, V Diogo, T Doering, M dos Reis Martins, A Durand-Morat, E Elli, E B Erenoğlu, M Finckh, M Gabbrielli, E Galan, F Gallardo-López, J Gay, N Gentsch, C Geppert, S Giuliano, I Goldringer, M Gosme, I Grechi, A Gross, F R Grossauer, G Guardia, F Hahn, F-E Helepciuc, F Hermans, B Herrera Sabillon, S Hoischen, D Holzowrth, N Hostiou, T Hu, H J Inocêncio, N Iofrida, R Isla, Y Y Jaimes-Suárez, M Jalli, R A Jat, M Jiménez Martínez, A Johnson, L Jordan-Meille, E Justes, M Kernecker, J Kirkegaard, R Kraaijvanger, N Kumar, S Kumar, F Küzmiƒç, J Labreuche, J Lairez, A Lashkari, R A Laumann, R Lawes, G Le Provost, P Lescoat, C Li, L Li, M Li, Y Li, K Liu, J Lloveras Vilamanyà, A Lopes, R Lorrillière, M D Lozano Tovar, E Luedeling, H Maat, I Macedo, C MacLaren, M-B Magrini, E Mapfumo, T Martin, T Martin, M Martínez-Mena, R S Massad, G Mastalerczuk, V Materia, L Mc Namara, T McBeath, A McVittie, M S Meier, H Meinke, F Mensah, L Mercenaro, A Merot, S A Mesele, A Metay, B Mirgol, D Möller, K Morel, C Mottes, T H Mulesa, W Mulimbi, E Munasinghe, R Mungkung, A-C Mupepele, T Nemecek, R Nettle, N Nikolic, M-O Nozières-Petit, B Oehen, A Onofri, R Osman, E Padoan, A Perego, S Petit-Michaut, H-P Piepho, E Polge, P Pongrac, E Porcher, K Prager, G Preiti, R Price, L Prost, C Qiao, M Quemada, A Ratnadass, M D Raya-Sereno, N Raymond, N Riekoetter, L Riggi, D Rivest, L Rodrigo, A Rodriguez-Hernandez, A Roesch, A Romyen, E Ronner, M Ros, G Rubio, C Ruviaro, I Sache, S Saia, C Salembier, C Schob, L Schulte-Filthaut, A G T Schut, J P Sciurano, K Scow, U Skiba, M Skowroñska, V Snow, V Souchère, B Strehlow, J Sumberg, F Tacconi, T Tadiello, E Tello, I Tiermann, J Timaeus, J Trap, G Trebuil, V Triantafyllidis, K Vaiknoras, E Vall, J van den Berg, H Van der Werf, W van der Werf, M van Loon, P Van Oort, S Vanino, F M Vanwindekens, J Vasco Silva, A Vatsanidou, K Verburg, A Vergnes, P Veysset, D Viaggi, I Vogeler Cronin, M Von Cossel, H Wang, P Wardana, D Warren Raffa, M Weinmann, S Winter, J Wohlfahrt, S Woodward, W Xie, F Zhang, G Zhang, X Zhang, X Zhao.

Distribution of pesticides in agroecosystem food webs differ among trophic groups and between annual and perennial crops

Pesticides threaten biodiversity, but their impact on agroecosystem food webs remains unclear. Our study reveals pesticides, including banned ones, enter local food webs from surrounding landscapes through diverse routes. Trophic groups and agroecosystem type influence the number of detected pesticides. We found that insecticides and fungicides bioaccumulate, while herbicides (bio)degrade. Our findings emphasize how species traits and agroecosystem characteristics collectively impact pesticide distribution in food webs. This study provides crucial insights into the ecological consequences of pesticide use, informing sustainable pest management and biodiversity conservation.

Michalko, R., Purchart, L., Hofman, J. et al. Distribution of pesticides in agroecosystem food webs differ among trophic groups and between annual and perennial crops. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 44, 13 (2024).


Soil erosion has mixed effects on the environmental impacts of wheat production

This study is the first to encompass watershed-scale processes in the environmental assessment of wheat production and to address trade-offs between erosion losses and carbon burial in sediments. It demonstrates that soil erosion increases the greenhouse gas emissions of wheat by up to 60% to 80% and emphasizes the importance of erosion-control management practices.


Ruau, C., Naipal, V., Gagnaire, N. et al. Soil erosion has mixed effects on the environmental impacts of wheat production in a large, semi-arid Mediterranean agricultural basin. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 44, 6 (2024).


Feasibility of mitigation measures for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the UK

This review is briefly contextualised as follows:
(1) Synthesising a novel, comprehensive, and searchable dataset on agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation measures whilst critiquing their feasibility of deployment (e.g., capital investment, operating costs etc.) as net-zero becomes a focal point for highly industrialised nations; to achieve this, the authors followed a strict standard operating procedure for systematic literature reviews.
(2) Providing an open-access, informative, and comprehensive dataset for agri-environment stakeholders and policymakers to identify the most promising mitigation measures and their potential contribution to a net-zero economy across all major agricultural activities with the geographic boundary being set in the UK.
Jebari, A., Pereyra-Goday, F., Kumar, A. et al. Feasibility of mitigation measures for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. A systematic review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 44, 2 (2024).

The future of digital agriculture through the lens of policy and law

Digital agriculture presents potential enhancements to sustainability across food systems. Researchers MacPherson et al. studied how digital technologies could be leveraged to achieve a diverse range of agricultural-related policy objectives in the future. They found that current polices have yet to acknowledge the full potential of these technologies. They conclude that future data ownership regimes will decide for which ends digital agriculture is being used.

MacPherson, J., Voglhuber-Slavinsky, A., Olbrisch, M. et al. Future agricultural systems and the role of digitalization for achieving sustainability goals. A review. Agron. Sustain. Dev. 42, 70 (2022).

Vermicompost for the sustainable management of crops pests and diseases

Picture copyright Looseends (flickr)

Vermicompost originates from organic wastes decomposition by earthworms. This substrate and its liquid solution, vermicompost tea, enrich soils with essential nutrients and beneficial plant growth hormones and favor the development of microbes that suppress pests or diseases. Scientists Yatoo et al. recently reviewed how to produce these organic amendments and to use them for low-cost but efficient crop disease management. They reckoned vermicomposts are innovative eco-friendly alternatives to agrochemicals in crops and fruit production.

A farmer participatory approach to improve groundwater quality

French and EU policies struggle to promote the restoration of groundwater quality by encouraging farmers to change their practices. Scientists Richard et al. developed a farmer-to-farmer suggestion-based method for improving farm management from economic, social, and environmental viewpoints. Such a method proves interesting and viable to promote sustainable farming practice and implement groundwater-friendly farm management.

Codesigning mycorrhiza-friendly agrosystems

Picture copyright Allemand, INRA

In the context of the agroecological restoration, exploiting soil biodiversity is the top priority for reducing crop dependence on chemical inputs. Focusing on mycorrhizae, scientists Chave et al. elaborated a methodological framework for designing efficient agrosystems. This method reveals various constraints and levers. It fosters local innovation and develops both systemic reasoning and collective actions. Such a global approach allows farmers to understand that all of them are potential “mycorrhizae producers”.