The persistence of pesticides threatens European soils

November 26, 2018

The use of phytosanitary projects to combat weeds and other pests that affect the crops has led to an increase in the productivity of European agricultural crops in the last 50 years. Their use has been one of the principal mainstays of the intensification of agriculture in recent decades and has enabled greater crop yields to be obtained, but this advantage has been at the expense of the agricultural soils of the European Union.

Two researchers from the scientific team of the European Diverfarming project at the University of Wageningen (Netherlands), Violette Geissen and Coen J. Ritsema, have analysed surface soil samples from 11 European countries, searching for traces of the pesticides used in the area of agriculture and they have confirmed the persistence of this type of product in the land.

After analysing 317 samples taken in 2015 from 11 European countries belonging to six different cropping systems, the study "Pesticide residues in European agricultural soils: a hidden reality unfolded" concluded that 83% of said samples contained pesticide residues (76 different types of compounds). Some 58% of that percentage were mixes of pesticides, as opposed to 25% which came from a single type of substance. Glyphosate, DDT (banned since the 1970s) and broad-spectrum fungicides were the main compounds detected.

Increased social concern regarding this issue has two basic precepts: the major persistence of pesticides in the soil (as shown by this study) and the toxicity for some non-objective species (those which are not targeted). Considering that the residues accumulate in the uppermost part of the soil, they will easily become airborne due to air currents.

To face up to this problem, the Diverfarming project financed by the H2020 programme of the European Commission, proposes a more rational use of the land and the inputs that are incorporated therein: water, energy, fertilisers, machinery and pesticides. A series of alternatives are proposed for preserving the soil microorganism balance and, therefore, the biodiversity and its very health. These range from the use of new non-persistent pesticides, bio-stimulants, organic composts or to ally with crop diversification which contributes to balanced insect communities and thus to the absence of pests.

According to the study, the presence of mixes of pesticide residues in the soil is more the rule than the exception, which illustrates the need to evaluate environmental risks in the case of these combined compounds to minimise their impact.

Those who are cultivating the land are becoming increasingly aware that in order to have good produce they need good soil, which means that studies such as that by Geissen and Ritsema, as well as strategies such as those proposed by Diverfarming are more and more essential in the European agriculture sector.
-end-
Diverfarming is a project financed by the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission, within the challenge of "Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy", which counts on the participation of the Universities of Cartagena and Córdoba (Spain), Tuscia (Italy), Exeter and Portsmouth (United Kingdom), Wageningen (Netherlands), Trier (Germany), Pecs (Hungary) and ETH Zurich (Switzerland), the research centres Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria (Italy), the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain) and the Natural Resources Institute LUKE (Finland), the agrarian organisation ASAJA, and the companies Casalasco and Barilla (Italy), Arento, Disfrimur Logística and Industrias David (Spain), Nieuw Bromo Van Tilburg and Ekoboerdeij de Lingehof (Netherlands), Weingut Dr. Frey (Germany), Nedel-Market KFT and Gere (Hungary) and Paavolan Kotijuustola and Polven Juustola (Finland)).

University of Córdoba

Related Pesticides Articles from Brightsurf:

More plant diversity, less pesticides
Increasing plant diversity enhances the natural control of insect herbivory in grasslands.

In pursuit of alternative pesticides
Controlling crop pests is a key element of agriculture worldwide, but the environmental impact of insecticides is a growing concern.

Two pesticides approved for use in US harmful to bees
A previously banned insecticide, which was approved for agricultural use last year in the United States, is harmful for bees and other beneficial insects that are crucial for agriculture, and a second pesticide in widespread use also harms these insects.

Dingoes have gotten bigger over the last 80 years - and pesticides might be to blame
The average size of a dingo is increasing, but only in areas where poison-baits are used, a collaborative study led by UNSW Sydney shows.

Pesticides can protect crops from hydrophobic pollutants
Researchers have revealed that commercial pesticides can be applied to crops in the Cucurbitaceae family to decrease their accumulation of hydrophobic pollutants, thereby improving crop safety.

Honeybee lives shortened after exposure to two widely used pesticides
The lives of honeybees are shortened -- with evidence of physiological stress -- when they are exposed to the suggested application rates of two commercially available and widely used pesticides.

Pesticides increase the risk of schistosomiasis, a tropical disease
Schistosomiasis is a severe infectious disease caused by parasitic worms.

A proposal to change environmental risk assessment for pesticides
Despite regulatory frameworks designed to prevent environmental damage, pesticide use is still linked to declines in insects, birds and aquatic species, an outcome that raises questions about the efficacy of current regulatory procedures.

SDHI pesticides are toxic for human cells
French scientists led by a CNRS researcher have just revealed that eight succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor pesticide molecules do not just inhibit the SDH activity of fungi, but can also block that of earthworms, bees, and human cells in varying proportions.

Pesticides deliver a one-two punch to honey bees
A new paper in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry reveals that adjuvants, chemicals commonly added to pesticides, amplify toxicity affecting mortality rates, flight intensity, colony intensity, and pupae development in honey bees.

Read More: Pesticides News and Pesticides Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.