Good practice

Pest control in agriculture as a service

Pest control in agriculture as a service
© vulcanus, image #170632279, 2017, source:
Energy, Materials, Water, Waste, Carbon
Food processing, Other
Annual saving:
0 - 3%
Resource savings: Raw material:
Resource savings on raw material are related to reduced pesticide usage; on average, a 21 % reduction for the total region was observed on farms that use integrated pest management
Total cost savings:
Depends on the size of the farm, number of participants in a scheme and other factors
Premises and operation areas:
Supply operations
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10), Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:

Bring in the experts!

  • Farms traditionally own costly equipment, yet use them rarely or seasonally
  • Specialist services, such as integrated pest management, can be paid for as and when they are needed

Pest control requires a lot of equipment that is often only used during a certain season or stage of the harvest, and the season varies from one crop to the next. Owning all of the equipment as a farmer does not always make economic sense, especially for smaller farms.

An alternative to outright ownership is to outsource pest management. This way, a single farm or producer no longer needs to invest in costly equipment or keep up with the latest knowledge and trends. A service contract provides both, and the farmer pays for the results.

Studies have shown that pesticide treatment can be done more efficiently with newer methods and equipment, which reduce costs and environmental impact. But due to limited resources (time and money), small holdings struggle to keep up with technology and gather the knowledge needed to reap these benefits. 

For example, in Rias Baixas (Spain), where many small agricultural plots are owned by different grape growers, research was carried out to explore the benefits and impacts of pest-control-as-a-service on different farmers. Typically, the farmers owned and used their equipment just a few times in season. The rest of the year it gathered dust, costing the farmers more as it aged and needed maintaining or updating.

Key benefits 

To gain access to the latest technology without further capital investment, the farmers learnet they could outsource integrated pest control tasks to a third party who not only has better equipment but also more knowledge and skills. In the pilot research, this approach led to four times fewer pesticides being used and significant operating and investment savings for farmers. Farmers only have to pay for the service, with better results for the farm and the environment. 

Although significant savings can be made on equipment and pesticides, integrated pest management solutions like this do require more people being involved, which takes time and costs a little more. Also negotiating and managing the contract requires effort, which can reduce the absolute cost savings. The bigger the farm size, the bigger the savings because the transaction costs have to be made only once.

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