Application of the Danish pesticide load indicator to arable agriculture in the United Kingdom

Kathy Lewis, James Rainford, John Tzilivakis, David Garthwaite

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Pesticides are an important component of worldwide agriculture systems and have contributed to significant increases in crop quality and yields, and so food security. However, despite their societal benefits, pesticides can be hazardous to both humans and the environment. Therefore, effective pesticide polices are needed that balance the societal and economic benefits with the unintentional and undesirable environmental and health impacts. As a result, there has been consistent policy interest in pragmatic and practical techniques that are suitable for assessing the environmental and human health implications of agricultural pesticide use from a national perspective, for assisting in the development of policy initiatives and for communicating policy outcomes to the public. The work described herein aimed to explore the appropriateness of the Danish Pesticide Load Indictor for assessing agricultural pesticides applied in the United Kingdom from 2016 and 2018. In summary, the findings for the two datasets appear broadly comparable, suggesting that the overall environmental load from pesticides on the UK environment remained relatively constant during this period. Regional differences in environmental load and the major contributing substances were identified. Where large differences between the two years were seen, regulatory interventions appear to have been the cause. Overall, the indicator behaves as would be expected and it does appear to be sufficiently, sensitive to changes in pesticide use. However, various concerns were identified that may lead to modifications in how the indicator is calculated and what parameters are included such that it is better able to deliver UK policy objectives.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Early online date4 Jul 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jul 2021


  • Agriculture
  • Pesticides
  • Risk indicators


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