A comparison of the environmental impact of pesticide use in integrated and conventional potato cultivation in the Netherlands

F.M.W. de Jong, G.R. de Snoo

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Abstract

To reduce the environmental impact of agriculture in The Netherlands, a number of labels and certification schemes for integrated farming exist. This article compares the pesticide use associated with ware-potato cultivation by integrated and conventional methods, the former as certified under the Dutch Stichting Milieukeur scheme. Besides kg/ha usage, the potential environmental impact of usage was also compared. In terms of kg applied, on average integrated cultivation involved 25% of the quantities employed in conventional cultivation. This difference was not due to any major difference in the number of pesticides used or in the number of crop treatments; only in the case of herbicides were these figures significantly lower for integrated farming. The principal difference lies in the lower per hectare dosage of the chemicals employed, reducing overall pesticide usage to one-quarter of that employed in conventional cropping. The environmental impact of respective usage was determined using a composite indicator known as the ‘environmental yardstick’ and the results showed that the impact associated with integrated potato cultivation is only 2% that of conventional cropping. This difference in environmental impact was found for insecticides, fungicides and herbicides and was due to a variety of factors: choice of agent, volume employed and drift reduction. The composition of the crop chemical package played a key role in reducing environmental burden. Even if drift reduction is ignored, integrated cropping as per the Stichting Milieukeur certificate reduced the environmental burden to about 9% of that associated with conventional potato cultivation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume91
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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Keywords

  • potatoes
  • farming systems
  • environmental protection
  • pesticides
  • integrated farming systems
  • winter-wheat

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