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Report, 2012

Pesticide run-off to Swedish surface waters and appropriate mitigation strategies : a review of the knowledge focusing on vegetated buffer strips

Boye, Kristin; Jarvis, Nicholas; Moeys, Julien; Gönczi, Mikaela; Kreuger, Jenny;


Environmental monitoring has revealed that pesticides regularly enter surface waters in Sweden. Mitigation measures to control point sources and spray drift have successfully reduced pesticide concentrations in natural waters, but concentrations still sometimes exceed ecotoxicological guideline values. In addition, the EU directives on water (2000/60/EC) and sustainable use of pesticides (2009/128/EC), and the regulations regarding placing plant protection products on the market (EC 1107/2009) stipulate that mitigation strategies should be developed against diffuse sources, such as surface run-off and drainage. This report presents a compilation of existing knowledge as data support for the relevant authorities in the implementation of run-off mitigation strategies in regulatory and subsidy systems. The report describes a number of measures (vegetated buffer strips in particular, but also wetlands, ditch management, integrated pest management and other management strategies) to reduce the risk of surface run-off of pesticides. The report also evaluates the validity under Swedish conditions of the R1 scenario in the PRZM-in-FOCUS model for assessing the risk of pesticide concentrations exceeding the ecotoxicological guideline values due to pesticide transport through run-off. In Sweden, the majority of surface run-off occurs during snowmelt, when pesticide losses are unlikely. The temporal and spatial incidence of run-off events during the growing season and the amount of pesticides transported in this way are currently unknown. Phosphorus models estimate that up to 33% of total annual water flow enters water courses as surface run-off in the worst case scenario, and around 10% on average, but lack of model calibration data renders these estimates highly uncertain. Field data from a drained silt loam (considered to represent the 95th percentile worst case for run-off under Swedish conditions) suggest that 35- 50% of total monthly water flow during summer (May-September) occurs as surface run-off. Thus, surface run-off may contribute considerably to pesticide transport locally, but is still considered unlikely to be of major importance on a national level, although data are lacking to confirm this assumption. Therefore, local adaptation of mitigation measures is deemed a more efficient strategy for Sweden than general solutions, such as mandatory vegetated buffer strips along all water courses. This would also simplify coupling to other environmental mitigation measures, e.g. concerning nutrients and biodiversity, and increase acceptance among farmers. The R1 scenario in PRZM-in-FOCUS greatly overestimates the risks of run-off and erosion for Sweden, since the assumptions on soil and weather conditions are more extreme than is realistic for Sweden. Thus, alternative solutions suggested in this report for assessing pesticide run-off risks in Sweden are: 1) developing a Swedish scenario for the PRZM model; 2) expanding the Swedish groundwater scenario for the MACRO-in-FOCUS model to include run-off estimation; and 3) establishing a system for local run-off mitigation that is sufficiently reliable to justify the assumption that pesticides will rarely enter surface waters through runoff. It is strongly suggested that research and monitoring projects be supported to provide a better database on which to build risk assessment scenarios and risk management strategies.

Published in

CKB rapport

2012, number: 2012:4
ISBN: 978-91-576-9115-6
Publisher: Centre for Chemical Pesticides, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment
Moeys, Julien
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment
Kreuger, Jenny
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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