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    Best Practice, Better Water Protection – Spreading the Word

    Posted 19 November 2007

    New advice for operators to keep pesticides out of water has recently been published by UK and European experts. The initiative, Training the Operators to Prevent Pollution from Point Sources, or ‘TOPPS’, is the first of its kind to collate and define best management practice from 15 European countries. TOPPS aims for a sustainable improvement of water quality through education and training with the key messages being published in a supporting leaflet entitled “Best Practice, Better Water Protection”.

    Research suggests that a significant proportion of pesticides reaching water come from point sources and that a few drops of spilt pesticide can break water quality standards. The best management practice recommendations focus on six stages in the pesticide management process including transport, storage, before, during and after spraying and remnant/waste management, where improvements in operator practice will have a positive impact on reducing pesticide losses. Following a few simple rules can help stop pesticides reaching water.

    Simon Cooper at Harper Adams University College and the UK Partner Co-ordinator of TOPPS emphasises “Everyone who uses pesticides has a responsibility to ensure that they use them safely, correctly and effectively. TOPPS strives to re-enforce this message and disseminate consistent advice, training and information across Europe. Following a few simple rules can help stop pesticides reaching water. Whenever you are using pesticides it is essential to adopt best practice to protect water.” 

    The TOPPS best practice guidelines outlined in the leaflet have been developed in conjunction with the Voluntary Initiative. In addition to the TOPPS best practice guidelines being outlined in the leaflet a communications network has been established, along with informative publications, training material and the identification of demonstration farms. The Farm at Harper Adams University College is a Demonstration Farm for TOPPS and venue for training events, demonstrations, talks, training days and conferences.

    Advice includes simple procedures and tips on operational check-lists, transportation, storage, equipment calibration, travelling to the field, mixing and loading, avoiding contamination, drift and run-off, cleaning, container disposal, and management of unwanted stocks, leftover spray solutions and solid remnants.

    The initiative is funded through the European Commission’s Life programme and by the European Crop Protection Association.

    For further details on the TOPPS Project please view or e-mail 

    ·  'Pesticide' is a broad term, covering a range of products that are used to control pests.
    ·  Pesticides are used to protect crops from insect pests, weeds and fungal diseases while they are growing, prevent rats, mice, flies and other insects from contaminating foods whilst they are being stored and safeguard human health, by stopping food crops being contaminated by fungi.
    ·  Everyone who uses pesticides has a responsibility to ensure that they use them correctly and effectively.
    ·  A Point Source is an identifiable localised area where contamination can take place.  
    ·  Pesticides have been developed and designed so that as little as possible is needed. Farmers use about a third less chemicals today than they did in 1983.
    ·  TOPPS is funded under the European Commission’s Life program and by ECPA, the European Crop Protection Association and 12 other partners across Europe.

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