Environmental load of pesticides, 1998-2010

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The decrease in the environmental load of pesticides on surface waters has levelled off. The total environmental load was about 85% lower in the period 2008-2010 than in the reference period 1997-1999. The target for 2010 - a reduction of 95% - was therefore not achieved. The environmental load on the soil ecosystem and groundwater decreased by about 95% and 30% respectively between 1998 and 2010. The risk of poisoning for animals that forage for food in fields (terrestrial ecosystem), such as birds, also fell (PBL, 2012).

Sharp decrease in environmental load of pesticides on surface waters since 1998

The environmental load of pesticides from agriculture on surface waters was 85% lower between 2008 and 2010 than between 1997 and 1999. The target for 2010 - a 95% decrease compared with 1998 in the environmental load from agriculture on surface waters - was not achieved. The preliminary target in the Policy document on sustainable crop protection (nota Duurzame gewasbescherming of the Ministry of Agriculture, 2004) - a 75% reduction in 2005 compared with 1998 - was however achieved.

This reduction was mainly a result of the implementation of the Open cultivation and livestock breeding discharge decree (Lozingenbesluit open teelt en veehouderij). Two thirds of the reduction was achieved through changes made by farmers, for example by using low-emission machinery, or by not growing crops on strips of land along surface waters (crop-free zones). The remaining one-third reduction was achieved by changing the crop protection products that may be applied to land. The largest reduction in environmental load was achieved between 1998 and 2001. 

Despite the reduction in the environmental load of crop protection products achieved in the last ten years, the ecological targets for surface waters are still regularly exceeded. Monitoring results show that water quality threshold values for surface waters were exceeded at about half the monitoring locations in recent years (CML en Haskoning, 2010).


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Reference of this webpage

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2024). Environmental load of pesticides, 1998-2010 (indicator 0548, version 04,

) www.clo.nl. Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague; PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague; RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven; and Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen.