Soils and pesticide application

03 January 2019

Self propelled Challenger sprayer

Well managed soils can help reduce the risk of pesticides reaching water from soil erosion, surface runoff and drain flow.

Applying, and keeping, pesticides in the right place means the best value for money for your farm business and minimal risk to the wildlife and water quality on your farmland.

The ideal conditions for herbicide application are a dry soil profile with a moist soil surface.

The Voluntary Initiative works with CFE and gives advice on pesticide applications for different types of soils.

Dry, cracked soils

Avoid applications of pesticides to soils that are dry and cracked as water carrying pesticides can move into the drains. Cultivations will help to break up the large cracks and reduce the direct passage of water carrying pesticides into drains. If soils are cracked, wait until they have re-hydrated and cracks have sealed before applying pesticides.

Parched earth_20877

Dry soils

Risk of pesticide movement through soils that are dry but not cracked is lower. If soils are very light and heavy rain is expected, delay application until the rain has passed.

Rolled soil close up_29185

Saturated soils

Saturated soils are more likely to have runoff problems, especially along tramlines, resulting in the movement of pesticides off the field. Wait until drains have stopped flowing before applying pesticides. If heavy rains are forecast, application should be delayed.

soil runoff from tramline_61082

Image of saturated soil: Peter Thompson (GWCT)

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