Environmental management for arable agriculture : An Eco-rating system for pesticide use
The University of Hertfordshire, funded by MAFF and in collaboration with ADAS and IACR-Rothamsted, is currently developing a computer-based decision support system to encourage and enhance best practice within arable agriculture such that environmental protection can be given a high priority without jeopardising profitability. A significant part of this system is focused towards the use and management of pesticides to ensure that protecting the crop does not conflict with protecting the environment. The software system aims to assess the farmer’s use of pesticides. Using a multi-criteria approach, field techniques, pesticide choice and management practices such as storage, waste management and machinery calibration are all assessed. Although the system concentrates on field applications for crop protection, it also examines non-crop pesticides such as biocides and rodenticides. The eco-rating is derived by comparing actual practices with rules and heuristics describing best practice. Simple ranking and scoring techniques are used to derive an indicator of environmental performance with respect to the farmers use of pesticides.