Action 8: Definition of appropriate pesticide risk indicators for the monitoring of pesticide impact on the studied aquatic system

As part of Action 8, a number of indicators were identified and monitored to assess the level of risk in the pilot area, as well as the degree to which the Directive principles for the rationalized use of pesticides had been applied. To identify these indicators, data from OECD , IRENA , OPERA  and the overall knowledge derived from long-term experience of the project team on security matters in agricultural production was taken into consideration.

The monitored indicators were divided into two types:

  • General indicators, for monitoring general factors which contribute to the safety of agricultural production
  • Specific indicators, for monitoring the specific environmental factors which are related to the special features of the study area

Judging by a comparison of the results, there was to be a major improvement in factors such as the level of training, the use of personal protective equipment, the correct manner of applying pesticides, the adherence to the strategy of reducing spray drift, the management of solid and liquid waste, and the level of application of integrated crop management and low-input systems.

The specific indicators of EcoPest referred to the assessment of the environmental quality. They included the use of assimilation models of pesticides behavior in the environment, and prediction of pollutant levels on the use of pesticides at field and at drainage basin level. Analytical measurements and bioassays from samples taken from the sampling network of the area at predetermined time intervals were also carried out.

On the basis of the results, it was apparent that not only the pilot area but also the wider area, specifically more than 50% of it, had a high vulnerability to pollution. This fact underscored the need for taking prompt measures to protect the aquatic ecosystem from pollution.

The pollution which may had been coming from run-off, drainage, leaching and spray drift had been reduced over the year of the Project’s implementation, as shown by the software assimilation models for the behavior of pesticide pollutants.

Those results were in compliance with the results of the environmental samples analyses, the results of the bioassays and the results of the calculation of risk index R values. This index was defined by the ratio of the environmental concentration to the NOEC concentration (No Observed Effect Concentration) at which no detectable effects are expected to be caused to the studied organism.

The final proposal for setting out the indicators for monitoring the degree of implementation and the success of the 2009/128/EC Directive, as well as the overall evaluation of the indicators, developed and investigated as part of the EcoPest project, was submitted in the Final Report (currently under evaluation by the EC), along with the data gathered over the two years of the Project’s implementation.

 

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