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Keywords:

  • sustainable use of pesticide;
  • Directive 2009/128/EC;
  • farmer's behaviour;
  • plant protection products;
  • ‘on farm life cycle’;
  • training;
  • guidelines

Abstract

BACKGROUND

In 2008–2009, a survey in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy collected information on the farm use of plant protection products (PPPs) and evaluated whether the provisions of the Directive for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides are applicable. It was concluded that the provisions can be implemented, even if some gaps need to be filled and also the behaviour of farmers needs to be improved. Moreover, it was observed that all stages in the use of PPPs on farms could generate risks for the operator and/or the environment. One of the recommendations is to promote training for operators and to adopt good agronomic practices in order to improve sustainable use of PPPs.

RESULTS

The findings were used, in the following years, to develop a Guideline for Sustainable Use of PPPs to help the user in identifying the flaws in current practices at farm level as well as their corresponding corrective actions. The Guidelines are accompanied by free online software to be used as a diagnostic tool as well as to provide recommendations for improvements.

CONCLUSION

The approach adopted, taking into account the variability in farm structure, cropping pattern, risk attitude and economic availability, is not an instrument to identify the most suitable protection strategy for a given crop in a given period, but to help professional users to improve their practices in managing PPPs on farms and to make the most appropriate choices leading to reduced environmental and human risk, without compromising the profitability of agricultural production and food standards. This work has, as an underlying principle, a holistic approach to link the different elements of the three pillars of sustainability (environment, economy and society) and to enhance knowledge, which represents one of the main aspects of the Directive. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry