Education and research on pesticides continues
To decrease the risks with the use of pesticides, education projects are underway to ensure safer handling during pesticide use and research projects are underway to find methods for decreasing the load on the environment.
Education is important
‘Capture Pesticides’ is an information and education project being run by LRF in collaboration with the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Lantmännen, the Swedish Chemicals Agency and Svenskt Växtskydd. The aim is to improve the handling of pesticides in Swedish agriculture. This project has developed a ‘Helper in wind-adapted protection zones’, which is intended to decrease the risk of wind drift.
Within the programme ‘Balanced Crop Production’ there are also some pesticide projects, which have contributed e.g. to the development of the Swedish biobed for safe filling of agricultural sprayers. Within the EU a project (TOPPS) has been carried out to train farmers in how to decrease the risk of spillages during filling and clearing of their sprayer. A follow-up project (TOPPS-provadis) is working to make available existing knowledge on ways to decrease wind drift and surface run-off of pesticides into the surrounding environment. Another actor that is attempting to increase knowledge of safe pesticide use is the Swedish Golf Association through its research foundation STERF, which is working with issues such as integrated pest management.
Since most of the pesticide residues found in water are transported through the soil profile or via surface run-off, this can be difficult to counteract by only implementing measures for the actual spraying occasion. It is therefore important to find measures that can restrict these transport pathways, on which much research is underway. For example, SLU and the Swedish Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies have access to a number of experimental sites where drainage water from individual experimental plots can be collected and analysed and the effect of different measures studied. One such study has shown that structure liming decreases leaching of glyphosate through the soil profile. Glyphosate is one of the pesticides most frequently found in water.
Protection zones along water courses are among the methods used to decrease the risk of pollution through surface run-off and through wind drift. Research has shown that these zones can have a good effect, but it is important that they are positioned correctly in the landscape if they are to be cost-effective. Another example of methods being tested to decrease the risk of pesticide transport to water is introducing meanders into ditches by inserting zig-zag obstacles.