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Can organic agriculture cope without copper for disease control?

Synthesis of the Collective Scientific Assessment Report

by Didier Andrivon (editorial coordination), Isabelle Savini (editorial coordination)
october 2023

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DOI : 10.35690/978-2-7592-3839-2

DOI : 10.35690/978-2-7592-3156-0

Copper is used to control various fungal or bacterial diseases, mainly in grapes, in fruit production and in vegetable crops. It is the only active substance approved in organic farming with a strong fungicidal effect and a wide range of action. However, the demonstration of the negative environmental effects of copper, in particular on soil and water organisms, led to regulatory restrictions on use (capping of authorized doses), and even to its ban as a pesticide in some Northern European countries.
These increasing restrictions on the use of copper, which put growers who cannot use synthetic fungicides under severe constraints, led to a recurrent demand for "alternatives". Numerous experimental studies have therefore been carried out to identify and test other techniques: the use of disease-resistant varieties, the application of naturally-occurring substances that have a biocidal effect and/or stimulate the plant's natural defenses, the use of microbiological control agents, the adoption of prophylactic management, and the installation of physical protection. However, results remain scattered, and these control methods are rarely implemented in the field.
Resulting from a collective scientific assessment, this volume, first published in French in 2019, is a multidisciplinary and critical synthesis of the knowledge available on the subject. It describes and assesses the different techniques potentially effective against pathogens controlled by copper treatments, and insists upon the need to combine them in integrated crop protection systems.


The french version of this book, Peut-on se passer du cuivre en protection des cultures biologiques ?, is available on our website.

La version française de ce titre, Peut-on se passer du cuivre en protection des cultures biologiques ?, est disponible sur notre site.

Table of contents


Significant uses of copper, subject to increasing levels of regulation

Alternatives to the use of copper: considerable research prompting the need for a critical synthesis

Organization and intent of a Collective Scientific Expertise

Status and organization of this document

Chapter 1 - Background

Copper: properties and uses

Alternatives to copper: types and regulatory framework

Chapter 2 - Alternative methods to the use of copper

Natural biocidal preparations

Microbiological agents for biocontrol

Varietal resistance

Natural plant defense stimulators

Isotherapy, homeopathic and biodynamic preparations

Chapter 3 - Agronomic management of crop health risks

Prophylactic methods

Physical protection against infection

Management of the structure of crop plant and canopies


Chapter 4 - Introducing alternative levers and practices - into integrated protection systems

Evaluations and comparisons of cropping systems

Actors’ strategies and the availability and acceptability of innovations

Concluding thoughts

Chapter 5 - Overall conclusions

A considerable quantity of available information…

… but very unevenly divided between the areas of research and development

Individual, partially effective solutions…

… but still insufficiently integrated within integrated crop protection systems

Giving up copper: considerable room for improvement

Questions critical to the elimination of copper but insufficiently explored by current research

Lessons for and from “conventional” systems

Selected bibliography

Scientific articles

Technical documents


Annex. The literature corpus analyzed

Chronological distribution of the cited references

Types of references cited

Countries and institutions represented by publication authors

Source journals

Distribution of references across study themes

ESCo authors and editors

Scientific experts

Project management


Publications in the same collection

On the same subject


Language(s): English

Publisher: Éditions Quae

Edition: 1st edition

Collection: Matière à débattre et décider

Published: 31 october 2023

EAN13 eBook [ePub]: 9782759231560

EAN13 eBook [PDF]: 9782759238392

DOI eBook [ePub] : 10.35690/978-2-7592-3156-0

DOI eBook [PDF] : 10.35690/978-2-7592-3839-2

Pages count eBook [PDF]: 120

Interior: Colour

Reference eBook [ePub]: 02728EPB

Reference eBook [PDF]: 02728NUM

Size: 2.4 MB (ePub), 2.72 MB (PDF)

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