The environmental impact of pesticides applied in the integratedapple production system in operation in Trentino: preliminary results


Abstract: Increasing awareness of the potential adverse health and environmental effects ofpesticides has pushed the apple industry to adopt integrated control strategies aimed at reducingtheir use and replacing the most toxic compounds. In this context integrated apple productionguidelines have been applied in Trentino since 1991. As a consequence, restrictions on the use ofpesticides were imposed. The selection of pesticides permitted for use has only taken intoconsideration the acute and chronic toxicity as well as side effects to beneficial organisms. Morerecently, the reduction of pesticide residues on fruit at harvest has increased in importance and isan issue that is taken into consideration in choosing pesticides for IFP. To monitor the success ofthis policy in terms of reduction of the risk associated with the use of pesticides, the quantity ofpesticides applied per unit of surface area is generally used. Currently, it has become increasinglyapparent that pesticide weight is not sufficient to estimate the hazard and exposure characteristicsof pesticides and a variety of Pesticide Risk Indicators (PRI) have been developed to moreaccurately estimate the impacts of pest control products. This work refers to the application ofone such risk index, the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ), to estimate the hazard posed bypesticide usage in the apple production system operating in Trentino. For this study, a set of 79farms was sampled, comprising an area of 247ha and split into 740 scattered plots. Pesticide riskwas calculated by multiplying the amount of pesticide used (kilograms of active ingredient) oneach farm by the EIQ, a score for the potential risk of pesticides to farmworkers, consumers, andthe environment. The standardised EIQ/ha was then obtained by dividing total EIQ/farm by thearea of the single farm. The average EIQ field rating calculated for the 79 farms was 1171 (± 456std. dev.); mineral oil treatments accounted for 52.2% of the total score, fungicides for 41.4% andinsecticides for 4.1%. These results are discussed along with two of the major criticisms that aremade regarding to the use of this PRI.

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