Research

The laboratory of Crop Protection Chemistry, as part of the department of Plants and Crops is particularly experienced in the study of residues of plant protection products in crops and environmental samples (soil, water and air) and the study of side effects of these 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 and the fate of additives and adjuvants (surfactants) on spray performance and contact formation on crops, in water and soils.
  • the exposure assessment during and after pesticide application in greenhouses and field-application
  • the evaluation of the exposure and risks of pesticide applications
  • the development of indicators and models for evaluation of the human and 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

Projects

Michael Houbraken carries out post-doctoral research on the effect of formulation on the volatility of pesticides. 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. The volatilisation process is furthermore influenced by relative humidity, air temperature, atmospheric pressure and wind velocity. This research aims to reduce the volatilisation of crop protection chemicals by the use of specific adjuvants. The reduction of volatilisation of different plant protection chemicals and adjuvant combinations is tested in wind tunnel trials.


In the context of section 6 of Annex II of Regulation (EC) No 1185/2009, commercial and non-commercial non-agricultural use of pesticides is documented. Jasmine De Rop, next to her tasks as the professor’s assistant, processes data related with the non-agricultural use of pesticides in Flanders. A methodology to estimate the amount of pesticide use on specific crop groups is worked out.

 

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 was a survey to determine the types of plant protection products (PPPs) used on yam and how farmers handle these products. The second stage focuses on analyzing yam samples to determine pesticides residue levels in them and the implications for human health exposure. The third stage investigates applicator exposure and risk 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. 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; and 3: analytical evaluation of heavy metals and pesticides in the major crops and the environment. In addition, an accessible analytical methodology for checking and monitoring pesticide residues and heavy metals in the studied agricultural foods in development countries is looked for.

 

Gregor Claus works on the development of a risk-indicator for the pressure of plant protection products on solitary bees in apple and cherry orchards. Today, the importance of solitary bees is not well known. Indicators that measure the pressure of pesticides on these bees lack. "To measure is to know"; if the indicator shows that certain plant protection products have side effects, a number of effective mitigation measures can be put forward to protect these bees. As case study is chosen apple and cherry, where these solitary bees are indispensable for successful pollination.

 

Mariana Urraburu carries out research on Risk Benefit of fruit and vegetable consumption in Uruguay. WHO/FAO recommends a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day for the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, as well as for the prevention and alleviation of several micronutrient deficiencies, especially in less developed countries. Concerns related to the presence of contaminants in fruits and vegetables have been raised, such as pesticide residues. The objective of this research is to develop a research framework for Risk Benefit Analysis with negative impact on human health due to cumulative exposure towards pesticide residues present and beneficial impact via consumption of fruits and vegetables (total diet study). As case study, the net impact on health of the intake of five highly consumed fruits and vegetables in Uruguay will be determined.

 

Olumide Owolabi Omoboye carries out research on fluorescent Pseudomonas obtained and characterized from the rhizosphere of cocoyams grown in a disease-suppressive soil in Cameroon, and disease-conducive soils from Cameroon and Nigeria. Taxonomic characterization revealed that the cocoyam rhizosphere in the disease suppressive soil was enriched with a high abundance of cyclic lipopeptide (CLP)-producing P. fluorescens complex isolates, and a high CLP diversity, while isolates obtained from the disease-conducive soils were mainly associated with the P. putida group coupled with a lower proportion of CLP-producing strains and lower CLP diversity. The isolates displayed excellent biocontrol activity (comparable to the versatile Pseudomonas sp. CMR12a) against Pythium myriotylum the causative organism of cocoyam root rot disease. The research focuses on the determination of the biocontrol potential of these isolates against Magnaporthe oryzae on rice, and Rhizoctonia solani on bean. Influence of soil quality and age on Pseudomonas species and CLP diversity will be investigated.