Improving Current Agricultural Practices

A new study in the Journal of Environmental Health Management identifies new farming practices that could eliminate non-target effects of pesticides by 2010.

Fungal pests are a particular problem in the Netherlands due to climatic conditions. Pesticide usage in the Netherlands has declined since 1991, however current practices still result in spray-drift, that is the spreading of pesticides onto non-target plants, fungi and insects.

Using modeling techniques, the researchers were able to measure the impact spray drift had on non-target species in three different scenarios; the recent past (1999), the present (2005) and the near future (2010). The study showed that by introducing non-crop borders around agricultural fields, pesticide impacts on non-target species could be cut to zero. The paper has strong policy implications, given that current best practice techniques result in negative impacts on 41 per cent of areas next to treated fields, despite the use of low-drift nozzles and unsprayed borders.

A European policy framework directive for sustainable pesticide use is currently being developed as is a new Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides.

The BES welcomes comments from BES members and blog readers