In many countries, rising demand for food has resulted in the expansion of irrigation for agriculture and the increased use of fertilisers and pesticides in order to achieve and sustain higher yields. Since the Second World War, there has been a rapid increase in the use of synthetic organic compounds to control weeds, insects and different pests.
High levels of pesticide use can result in pollution of water resources, which can ultimately undermine agriculture, which is the main user of freshwater resources. While proper use of plant protection products minimises the impact of such pollution, excess pesticides can enter air, water, soil and biological chains, reaching even remote areas.
The IRRILIFE project will develop a more environmentally-friendly system for the distribution and dispensing of plant protection substances (pesticides and other phyto-regulators).The project will test this new method in a localised irrigation system in the municipality of L?Alcudia (Valencia, Spain). The project will also carry out an environmental assessment of the new process, and will assess its performance and environmental impacts compared with current pesticide application techniques.
The pesticides to be used will be selected according to the features of the new dosing system and according to the pests targeted. An economic evaluation of the entire process will be carried out.
Expected results: The following environmental benefits, compared to current techniques, are expected from the new system: 1. A 90% reduction in the exposure of farmers to pesticides; 2. An 80% reduction in pesticides released into in the atmosphere; 3. A 50% reduction in pesticide content in the soil; 4. A 50% reduction in the presence of pesticides in aquifers; 5. A 50% reduction in the presence of pesticides in air; 6. A 50% reduction in the presence of pesticides in fruit; 7. An 80% reduction in the persistence of pesticides used on soil (current persistence varies between 3-10 months); 8. A 30% reduction in plant protection costs; and 9. A 30% reduction in pesticide application costs.