How to reduce pesticides in Luxembourg's water resources? LIST explores alternative cropping techniques as well as potential substitutes for pesticides in order to assess their environmental impact. On Thursday, 23 January, Romain Schneider, Minister of Agriculture, and Carole Dieschbourg, Minister of the Environment, came to visit LIST and praised the work of our researchers in this field.
Researchers from LIST's Environmental Research and Innovation department presented their activities in the framework of the “Efficient Crop Rotation Systems for Oilseed Rape” project (EFFO) in terms of reducing pesticides in Luxembourg's water resources, and, in particular optimizing the production of winter oilseed rape from several environmental aspects. LIST and its partners* are working on identifying suitable cropping techniques and exploring potential substitutes based on multi-sided agricultural field trials.
The project comprised an evaluation of the environmental impact of the alternative pesticide treatment following the metazachlor ban. Based on a soil residue analysis of the substitute compounds after their application on the three test sites, locally calibrated fate modelling was set up. These simulations, in combination with recent statistical data on the shifts in pesticide use, confirmed the suspicion that at least one of the substitute compounds poses a comparable groundwater pollution threat to metazachlor-ESA via one of its transformation products if used over longer time periods.
Last year, LIST and its partners already revealed the potential of new cropping techniques, especially that of “Colza Associé”, which consists of a mixed crop of rapeseed, lentils and clover. Additionally, the cultivation of organically grown oilseed rape has surprised researchers with its very good yields in the last four years. Although the new techniques will require farmers to change their operational procedures, they will reduce both the number of herbicide applications and the risk of ground water contamination and can be successfully integrated into agricultural operations.
Minister Schneider visited the Environmental Research and Innovation department at LIST for the first time to get an impression of the laboratory facilities. Last year, LIST invested in new research equipment and machines, to cover in particular new challenges in the agricultural sector.
* the Fördergemeinschaft Integrierte Landbewirtschaftung (FILL), the Chambre d’Agriculture and the Lycée Technique Agricole