Defra - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Science Search

Science and Research Projects

Return to Science Search homepage   Return to Project List

Aquatic ecosystems in the UK agricultural landscape - PN0931

The project aims to provide detailed information about the nature of aquatic ecosystems in the UK agricultural landscape and to use this information to assist the future development of higher-tier risk assessment procedures for evaluating the impact of pesticides on non-target aquatic organisms.

Collaborative research will be undertaken to describe the biological, physico-chemical and morphological characteristics of freshwater ecosystems in the UK agricultural landscape including ditches, ponds, streams, lakes and canals. From data available to the consortium on cropping patterns, soils, pesticide use, hydrology and land class, up to 10 agricultural landscape classes will be defined. Aquatic habitats associated with these landscapes will be characterised through extensive analysis of existing ecological databases and targeted field survey work. Factors affecting the risk of exposure to pesticides and potential for ecological recovery will be assessed for each aquatic habitat and landscape class combination, with representative scenarios modelled in more detail. The potential use of these ecological and exposure datasets in probabilistic risk assessment (including the application of GIS techniques) will be investigated and the resulting regulatory implications will be discussed.

Overall, the project outputs will assist MAFF’s continued development of risk assessment methodologies in pesticide regulation in accordance with the Plant Protection Products Directive (91/414/EEC) and its associated Annexes. To facilitate communication of project results, a relational database incorporating biological, physico-chemical and morphological descriptions of aquatic habitats will be produced to allow risk assessment scenarios to be explored.
1. To describe the spatial and temporal distribution of aquatic habitats in the UK agricultural landscape.
2. To characterise the biological, physico-chemical and morphological characteristics of aquatic systems using both existing and trial data sets, in relation to the agricultural landscape.
3. To identify the factors influencing the magnitude and duration of exposure to pesticides.
4. To identify factors which might influence the potential for ecosystems to recover from pesticide related effects.
5. To investigate the potential for the use of this information in probabilistic risk assessments.
6. To investigate the potential for use of spatially explicit tools such as GIS.
7. To identify the regulatory implications for pesticide risk assessment and risk management in the UK and to make recommendations for further research.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Aquatic ecosystems in the UK agricultural landscape   (252k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2000

To: 2003

Cost: £272,851
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Cranfield, Pond Conservation, ADAS UK Ltd.
Environmental Protection              
Fields of Study
Pesticide Safety