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Development of awareness tools for a sustainable use of pesticides

Research project CP/33 (Research action CP)

Persons :

Description :


About 10.000 tons of active ingredient of pesticides are marketed annually in Belgium in agricultural and not agricultural sectors. These pesticides allow a sufficient high quality food. Profitability of a majority of agricultural productions is linked to the use of pesticides in the current farming system.
However, side effects of their use are sometimes observed: toxicity for the applicator (farmer), presence of residues above the threshold level in food, development of resistance and damage on natural resources.
That is why, it is important to have a Pesticide Impact Assessment System (PIAS) to monitor and to manage a safer use of pesticides in the framework of good agricultural practices.

Project description


- To select or develop a PIAS in order to estimate the impact of the use of pesticides on the food chain, on the environment, on the farm and societal economy;
- To realize inquiries on the way farmers have to face, integrate and manage the socio-economic, agronomic and environmental constraints;
- To test the selected or developed PIAS by controlling the sensitivity and robustness of the indicators with various agricultural situations and various pest management strategies;
- To use the PIAS to estimate the advantages and the disadvantages of various measures, as for example, the application of grass strips along rivers or restriction in the use of particle or an environmental policy;
- To propose scenarios to support farmers, extension services and also politicians in their decision for a more sustainable use of pesticides.


The first stage is to identify, among the presently developed indicators, those that are relevant for the objectives. Besides, toxicological and ecotoxicological data are to be selected in the literature (scientific paper or registration documentation) and in the existing database (ecotox, agritox, etc.). An inquiry will be realized with the farmers to identify the major parameters that influence the pest control strategies. Results of the inquiry will determine the presentation of the indicators in order to optimize their efficacity. The indicators will then be aggregated in a PIAS. In a second stage, the PIAS will be validated as much as possible with monitoring of the surface water quality and with monitoring of the pesticide food residues. Besides, the validation of the PIAS will submitted to an expert evaluation. Finally this tool will allow the evaluation of the impact of some measures (current or proposed in the future) on human health and different compartments of the environment.

Coordination of the research

The succession of tasks and the coordination of the scientific teams are resumed in the grid below.

Expected results and deliverables

1. The project aims to provide a PIAS for the assessment, at farm scale, of the impact of present and new crop protection methods on the environment and on the economy.
2. According to human health and environmental risk, a ranking of the pesticides will also be feasible with the PIAS.
3. The tool would also be used as a decision aid system for the farmer, grower and other land manager in order to minimize the side effect of pesticides applications.
4. Extension services will use the PIAS to provide more accurate advices for a sustainable crop protection.
5. If possible, the PIAS will be regionally adapted in order to provide the public authorities with a system that helps taking decisions.
6. An inquiry on the farmer attitude, knowledge’s and practices concerning the pesticide use and its impact on human and environment.


The expertise of the ‘unité de Phytopathologie’ of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) is based on the development of crop protection strategies in order to increase the quality and the yield of plants while respecting the environment.

The Crop Protection and Phytopharmacy Department of the Universiteit Gent (RUG) is experienced in the pesticide residues in food and in the environment. An indicator (POCER) was also developed in the department to assess the impact of pesticides on nature and human.

The Department of Quality and Safety of the Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre (VAR) has an expertise in the transfer, degradation and adsorption of pesticides in soils. A regional indicator of the pesticide exposure and risk in surface water (SEPTWA) and a pesticide risk assessment indicator (SyPEP) were developed in the department.


Professeur H. Maraite
Université catholique de Louvain (UCL)
Faculté d’ingénierie biologique, agronomique et environnementale - Unité de phytopathologie
2, Place Croix du Sud, boîte 3
B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
Tel: +32 (0)10 47 37 49; Fax: +32 (0)10 47 86 97

Professeur W. Steurbaut
Universiteit Gent (RUG)
Faculté des Sciences Agronomiques et de Biologie Appliquée
Département Défense des Végétaux
Coupure links 653
B-9000 Gent
Tel: +32 (0)9 264 60 11; Fax: +32 (0)9 264 62 49

Dr. Ir. Ph. Debongnie
Centre d’Etude et de Recherche Vétérinaires et Agrochimiques (CERVA - VAR)
Leuvensesteenweg 17
B-3080 Tervuren
Tel: +32 (0)2 769 22 48; Fax: +32 (0)2 769 23 05

Users Committee

- Philippe Costrop - Phytofar - Ruisbroek
- Charles de Schaetzen - Proefcentrum voor fruitteelt - Sint-Truiden
- Bernard Decock - Fédération Wallonne de l'Agriculture (FWA) - Gembloux
- Ph. Delaunois - Ministère de la Région Wallonne - Direction du développement et de la vulgarisation - Beez
- Stéphane Delbrassinne - BASF Belgium - BU Crop Protection - Brussel
- Georgette Detiege - Phytofar - Bruxelles
- Christophe Dierckxsens - Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap - AMINAL - Sectie Water - Brussel
- Herman Fontier - SPF Santé publique, Sécurité de la Chaîne alimentaire et Environnement - DG 4 - Bruxelles
- Guy Foucart - Centre Indépendant de Promotion Fourragère - Louvain-la-Neuve
- O. Hermann - Institut Royal Belge pour l'Amélioration de la Betterave - Tienen
- Jean-Marie Huybreck - Ministère de la Région Wallonne - Direction générale de l'Agriculture (DGA) - Jambes
- Jean-François Misonne - Institut Royal Belge pour l'Amélioration de la Betterave - Tienen
- Stijn Overloop - Vlaamse Milieu Maatschappij (VMM) - Mechelen
- Luc Peeters - Dienst Residu Contrôle - Sint-Katelijne-Waver
- Benoît Tricot - Ministère de la Région Wallonne - Division de l'eau, direction des eaux de surface - Jambes
- M. Trybou - SPF Santé publique, Sécurité de la Chaîne alimentaire et Environnement - Bruxelles
- Marc Vandercammen - Centre de Recherche et d'Information des Organisations de Consommateurs (CRIOC-OIVO) - Bruxelles

Documentation :

Development of awareness tools for a sustainable use of pesticides : final report  Maraite, H. - Steurbaut, W. - Debongnie, P.  Brussels : Federale Science Policy, 2004 (SP1378)
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