Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, Bern

Pesticides and surface water: practical protective measures

Plant protection products are applied to farmed land to protect crops from harmful organisms. From there, they might be transported via drift and run-off to adjacent habitats. For the active substances, regulatory acceptable concentrations (RAC) for aquatic organisms are determined during the authorization process. As part of the process of assessing the environmental risk, these RAC values are compared to predicted environmental concentrations in surface waters. If the result of this comparison indicates that the risk for aquatic communities is too high, specific measures to reduce the risk will be taken. In order to protect surface waters from potentially harmful substances, buffer strips between the site of application and the threatened habitat will be specified. By using technical measures such as anti-drift nozzles and/or vegetation barriers, it is possible to further reduce the drift from the farmland. If these substances are applied according to the regulations, there will be no adverse side-effects for the environment.

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