Research

The Laboratory of Crop Protection Chemistry, as part of the department of Crop Protection is particularly experienced in the study of pesticide residues in crops and environmental samples (soil, water and air) and the study of side effects of pesticide treatments.

Current research is carried out in the following fields :

  • the development of methods for the determination of pesticides in various matrices (crops, soil, water, air, formulations)
  • the presence of pesticide residues in the total diet
  • the influence of conservation methods and culinary treatments on the fate of residue levels in food
  • the influence of interfering factors on the fate of pesticides (degradation in field and lab experiments, behaviour in soil and plants, metabolic fate)
  • the influence of formulation and application aspects on the efficacy of pesticide treatments
  • the physicochemical properties of spray solutions
  • the effect of additives and adjuvants (surfactants) on spray performance and contact formation
  • the exposure assessment during and after pesticide application in greenhouses and field-application
  • the evaluation of the exposure risks of pesticide applications
  • the development of indicators and models for evaluation of the environmental impact of pesticides
  • the study of drift during and after pesticide application
  • the detection of pesticides in rain water
  • the modelling of the fate and behaviour of pesticides in the food chain and the environment
  • the impact of climate change on pesticide use

Projects

Michael Houbraken carries out research on the effect of surfactans on the volatility of pesticides next to his tasks as an assistant. Emissions of crop protection products into the air not only affect human health and contaminate the environment,they also induce an economic loss. One way for these chemicals to reach the air is volatilisation of plant deposits. Crop protection chemicals with a high vapour pressure tend to volatilise in greater extent. Therefore vapour pressure and Henry's law constant are key factors in this research. Next to this, the Henry's law constant is relevant to substances present in a wet spray solution. The volatilisation process is furthermore influenced by relative humidity, air temperature, atmospheric pressure and windvelocity. This research aims to reduce the volatilisation of crop protection chemicals by the use of specific adjuvants. The first stage of the research focuses on selecting adjuvantsreducing volatilisation. This is done based on volatilisation tests in the laboratory. In the second stage, promising 'adjuvant - crop protection chemical' combinations will be tested on different crops in semi-field conditions. In the last stage of the research, the reduction of volatilisation of different plant protection chemicals and adjuvant combinations will be tested in field trials.

Shirley Mahabali evaluates agricultural practices in Suriname by means of interviews. She investigates the use of wetlands for agricultural wastewater treatment to decrease water pollution.

In the context of section 6 of Annex II of Regulation (EC) No 1185/2009, Eurostat decided to carry out a pilot study on both commercial and non-commercial non-agricultural use of pesticides. Davina Fevery processes data related with the non-agricultural use of pesticides in Flanders in the Framework of the Eurostat project. A methodology to estimate the amount of pesticide use on specific crop groups will be worked out and she reports the chapter pesticides for MIRA (Flanders Environment Report).

A new European project ECO-ZEO (7th FW) (http://www.ecozeo.eu) just started up looking at the use of Zeolites in plant protection. Zeolite have been identified as a potential starting point for the production of novel innovative products for use in the agrochemical and horticultural sector. Caroline De Smedt investigates new and unique combinations of Zeolite formulated with complimentary active substances, additives and specialised compounds with regard to control of some pests and diseases.

Seblework Mekonen Shegen studies  human exposure and food safety of pesticide residues in consumer products of Ethiopia. She focuses on 1) analysis of commonly consumed food items for the presence of pesticides, 2) exposure and risk assessment of human beings for pesticide residues in food and drinking water and 3) effect of household food processing on pesticide residues in food.

David Senaeve is working on pesticide residues in food. He does research towards the kinetics of degradation of crop protection products in crops and how this can help the farmer to produce low-residue crops. Furthermore his research also focuses on cumulative exposure and risk analysis of crop protection products in food.

Abukari Wumbei’s research focuses on human and environmental risk assessment of pesticides use on yam in Ghana. The aim of the research is to assess the risk to the environment and human health resulting from the wide spread and indiscriminate use of pesticides on yam farms in Ghana. The first stage of the research will be a survey to determine the types of PPPs used on yam and how farmers handle these products. The second stage will focus on analyzing water and yam samples to determine pesticides residue levels in them and the implications for human health. The third stage will focus on applicator exposure assessment to the PPPs on yam farms.”

Edelbis Lopez Davilla is working in the central region of Cuba (Sancti Spiritus). He looks for simplified analytical methods to identify pesticide residues and heavy metals in food and biofertilizers used in agriculture. The biofertilizers origin from digestion from agricultural waste from anaerobic plants. His research starts with 1: identification of the main pesticides used per crop in the region of Cuba; 2: assessment of the human exposure through surveys and environmental risk evaluation of pesticide residues; 3: analytical evaluation of heavy metals and pesticides in the major crops and the environment; in addition the evaluation of the non-presence of pesticide residues and heavy metals in the anaerobic digestation obtained of agricultural waste and 4: development of an analytical methodology for checking and monitoring pesticide residues and heavy metals in the studied agricultural foods.