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Risk analysis of the impact of agrochemicals on soil and water quality under farming systems with different land use practices


A. Compilation of quantitative information on environmental risks and economic data from various farming systems with different input levels of agrochemicals under different conditions of soils and climate through monitoring and analysis of existing data sets.
B. Evaluation of tools to assess the impact of different farming systems on soil, groundwater and surface water quality.
C. Development of an environmental risks analysis system for field, farm and regional level, providing a rational basis for the evaluation of environmental risks from different farming systems and land use practices.

Objective (A) implies the gathering of data sets on the use and fate of agrochemicals, especially fertilizers, organic manure and some pesticides, together with economic assessments for a variety of farming systems in the Netherlands and the UK. Special emphasis will be on integrated arable farming systems versus conventional farming systems at experimental farms with different soils. This information will be used to investigate the region-specific potential for integration of economic and environmental goals and corresponding farming systems.
A special data gathering programme will provide information on effects of preferential flow through soils and other aspects of spatial variability as these may result in rapid transport of solutes through the unsaturated zone. In contrast with homogeneous soil types, these aspects may prove to be major factors affecting environmental risks. Research on this topic will be carried out in Belgium and the Netherlands. The data will also be made available to the group involved in modelling activities of project CT940467.

Under (B) the feasibility of using existing models for assessing environmental risks of use of agrochemicals will be studied. Model validation will be based on an analysis of differences between model simulations and corresponding measurements, determining whether the lack of fit is statistically significant. The validated models will be used to interpret the results of activity (A) and for predicting especially nitrate and pesticide leaching in case of changes in land use practices. Such modelling studies can be performed for various farming systems in the EC within the scope of the validation. These predictions will be performed using stochastic techniques for handling model input and output, implying that the results will be presented as probabilities of an amount of agrochemical leaching to the groundwater or surface water.

Objective (C) requires the development of risk analysis systems for field, farm and regional level, which will be based on the models used within the project for assessing environmental effects of use of agrochemicals. The risks within this project at farm level will consider nitrate and pesticide leaching in combination with economic aspects. The system will be used for the evaluation of various scenarios with different agrochemical input levels and the results will be presented as stochastic output. The risk analysis system must be put in a form in which it can readily be used to provide advice to farmers. It should also be helpful to policy makers who wish to evaluate options or produce activities.
The risk analysis system for the regional level will use the information from all other activities, extrapolating the information from fields and farms. The emphasis will be on use of spatially distributed information at various scales and generation of model input from available data. The regionalization will be based mainly on soil, cropping and climate characteristics. Furthermore, the potential for using the EC Soil Map (scale 1:1,000,000) to undertake national strategic risk assessments of the potential impact of introducing integrated farming systems will be assessed.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Agricultural Research Department
Droevensdaalsesteeg 3
6700 AC Wageningen

Participants (5)

Cranfield University
United Kingdom
Silsoe Campus Wharley End
MK45 4DT Cranfield
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
102,Vital Decosterstraat 102
3000 Leuven
Landbouwuniversiteit Wageningen
6701 AR Wageningen
United Kingdom
West Common
AL5 2JQ Harpenden, Herts
Research Station for Arable Farming and Field Production of Vegetables

8200 AK Lelystad