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Increased occurrence of pesticide residues on crops grown in protected environments compared to crops grown in open field conditions

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>01/2015
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)1428-1435
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Crops grown under plastic-clad structures or in greenhouses may be prone to an increased frequency of pesticide residue detections and higher concentrations of pesticides relative to equivalent crops grown in the open field. To test this we examined pesticide data for crops selected from the quarterly reports (2004–2009) of the UK’s Pesticide Residue Committee. Five comparison crop pairs were identified whereby one crop of each pair was assumed to have been grown primarily under some form of physical protection (‘protected’) and the other grown primarily in open field conditions (‘open’). For each pair, the number of detectable pesticide residues and the proportion of crop samples containing pesticides were statistically compared (n = 100 s samples for each crop). The mean concentrations of selected photolabile pesticides were also compared. For the crop pairings of cabbage (‘open’) vs. lettuce (‘protected’) and ‘berries’ (‘open’) vs. strawberries (‘protected’) there was a significantly higher number of pesticides and proportion of samples with multiple residues for the protected crops. Statistically higher concentrations of pesticides, including cypermethrin, cyprodinil, fenhexamid, boscalid and iprodione were also found in the protected crops compared to the open crops. The evidence here demonstrates that, in general, the protected crops possess a higher number of detectable pesticides compared to analogous crops grown in the open. This may be due to different pesticide-use regimes, but also due to slower rates of pesticide removal in protected systems. The findings of this study raise implications for pesticide management in protected-crop systems.