The main goal of Action 7 was a strategy for ensuring that all kinds of waste produced by the use of pesticides have the least possible negative impact on the environment.
The waste produced by agricultural activities can be divided into two categories: solid and liquid. Liquid waste comes mainly from tank mixture remnants and from the rinsing of the spraying machinery. Another important portion of the liquid waste comes from time-expired formulations of pesticides, which are unsuitable for application. The solid waste comprises mainly the empty plastic packages and remnants of the pesticides, which becomes toxic if not managed properly.
In the broader area of the Kopais basin, there was no knowledge or care for agricultural waste management, whether solid or liquid. Farmers were accustomed to throw the waste away anywhere they chose, unaware that it might be toxic and, therefore, dangerous to both human health and that of the environment.
To fulfill this Action’s’ goals, initial activities included informing and training of the farmers and agronomists on the hazardous impacts on public health and the environment of:
a) empty packaging,
b) liquid waste containing pesticides,
c) possible spillage of spraying solutions during production or transport, and
- the use of unapproved or time-expired pesticides.
One of the main aspirations of this Action was to make the involved farmers and agronomists understand that pesticides are hazardous substances, and therefore ought to be properly managed. Furthermore, it was stressed that only licensed and approved pesticides should be used, and then only according to the label instructions. It was impressed on the trainees that discarding the liquid waste and empty packaging of pesticides in fields, surface water, dumps, etc is not a correct agricultural practice. For this purpose, special red dumpsters were placed at key locations around the area for collecting the empty plastic packages and remnants that contained pesticides.
In parallel with the above, two units of liquid waste management were established (the Heliosec system) for the collection of the liquid waste produced by the rinsing of spraying machinery, and the tank mixture remnants. Information was also given to farmers and agronomists on ways of combating possible leakage of spraying solutions and pesticides during use or storage.
As a result, the above mentioned/described activities led to the improvement in the area, from both an aesthetic and an environmental point of view. All the issues that were presented to and worked through with the farmers and agronomists were clearly understood, as was shown by the answers they gave on the questionnaires during the second round of training, during training periods, and from the reduced concentrations of pesticides measured in the analysis of water and soil samples.