Long-term lessons on pesticide leaching obtained via the Danish Pesticide Leaching Assessment Programme
Friday, 19 December 2014
To avoid any unacceptable influence on the environment posed by pesticides and their degradation products, all pesticides used in the European Union needs authorization. The authorization procedure includes assessing the leaching risk of both pesticides and their degradation products to the groundwater. There are shortcomings to the procedure, however, as revealed by the results of the Danish Pesticide Leaching Assessment Programme from the period 1990/2000 to 2012 (app. twelve years). This monitoring program has for this period assessed leaching into groundwater via the variably-saturated zone of 43 pesticides applied in accordance with current regulations on sandy and loamy agricultural fields, and 47 of their degradation products. Three types of leaching scenario were not fully captured by the authorization procedure: i) long-term leaching of degradation products of pesticides applied on potato crops cultivated in sandy soils, ii) leaching of strongly sorbing pesticides after autumn application on loamy soils, and iii) leaching of various pesticides and their degradation products following early summer application on loamy soils. The monitoring data revealed that the authorization procedure was unable to predict leaching scenarios for a number of pesticides in hydrogeological settings dominated by rapid preferential transport via e.g. biopores that bypasses the retardation (sorption and degradation) of the plow layer. Such settings are primarily present in the autumn, but can also occur during the early summer in connection with the formation of a structural seal on the soil surface.