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The sustainable use of plant protection products (PPPs) is a set of measures implemented to reduce the risks and impacts from the use of PPPs on human health and the environment. These measures include the promotion of the proper use of PPPs, implementation of integrated pest management and low-risk plant protection methods, information provided to the public about PPPs, training of PPP advisors, sellers and users, and the inspection of PPP application equipment.

Training users on plant protection products

Persons using PPPs in their professional activities (professional users), PPP sellers, PPP advisors (distributors of PPPs and advisors on the protection of plants from pests and the safe use of PPPs in the context of professional or commercial services) undertake professional training in the safe handling of PPPs within the system of training on PPPs. The safe use of PPPs means the appropriate handling of PPPs and ensures the protection of health of consumers, PPP users, workers on treated surfaces, any other persons present, population and the environment. Training on PPPs is compulsory for professional PPP users, PPP sellers and PPP advisors. 

The training is provided by authorised providers selected in the public tender. After a training participant has succesfully passed the exam, the training provider issues a certificate on the acquired knowledge of phytomedicine. A certificate owner may renew the certificate every three or five years if they attend a course for the renewal of this certificate. 

To help participants in training, the Government has prepared, in cooperation with the Agricultural Institute of Slovenia, uniform handbooks titled the Basic Principles of Good Agricultural Practice in Plant Protection and Safe Use of PPPs and Questions and Answers. 

The certificate may be acquired by any person using PPPs authorised for professional use in their work. A PPP user needs to provide the certificate when purchasing PPPs; they present it to the seller or PPP advisor in a store. 

Sale of plant protection products

The PPP sale system in Slovenia is regulated in such a way that PPP distributors are licensed by the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection, and employ PPP advisors and sellers who have completed the appropriate basic training and hold a valid PPP training certificate; they also have adequate storage, sales and ancillary facilities. 

PPP distributors in Slovenia must submit an application for issuing a permit for the distribution of PPPs. They must keep sales records and send them to the Administration for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection by the end of March for the previous year. 

Buyers purchasing PPPs for professional use must present a valid certificate - certificate on acquired knowledge of phytomedicine. 

PPPs that may be used in organic production may be also used as PPPs intended for non-professional use.  When purchasing these, a buyer is not obliged to present a certificate on their acquired knowledge of phytomedicine. 

Public information and awareness-raising on PPPs

The Administration for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection oversees the information disseminated to the wider and expert public on the potential risks of the use of PPPs to human health and the environment. 

It informs the public on the safe use of PPPs and protection of bees as a part of annual campaign. PPP distributors add an image of a bee in a red diamond on white background on the label of PPPs classified as hazardous for bees. The sign tells the PPP user that they must use the PPP in a way that is not hazardous to bees. For better recognition, PPPs classified as hazardous for bees have been placed on a separate list

In cooperation with the Economic Interest Grouping of Producers, Distributors  and Representatives of PPPs, Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia and Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association, the Government issues flyers and booklets on the proper use of PPPs and health and environment protection to raise public awareness of these issues. 

Inspection of PPP application equipment

Before PPP application equipment is placed on the market and used, it must comply with the prescribed conditions ensuring technically appropriate application of PPPs on treated surfaces and therefore safe work and environmental protection.

New equipment placed on the market must comply with the requirements prescribed by standards of the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) SIST EN ISO 16119 from 1 to 4: 2013

Owners or users of equipment must ensure its regular inspection. Inspections are carried out by authorised inspectors. An inspector checks whether a piece of equipment complies with the requirements from the standard SIST EN ISO 16122 from 1 to 4: 2015, as provided by the legislation. An owner or user of equipment must register the equipment before bringing it for inspection.

Registration of PPP application equipment for inspection

Besides the technical flawlessness of PPP application equipment, the use of suitable nozzles for a particular crop or plantation is very important. This is particularly important when using anti-drift nozzles (AD nozzles) because the user must precisely harmonise the working parameters (pressure, driving speed, fan capacities, limit wind velocity, air current direction and the like) with the technical characteristics of the nozzle. The most common mistakes in the use of nozzles are compiled on this link. 

The standards of the British Crop Production Council (BCPC) and American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) have categorised all types of nozzles by drop size and marked them with colours and letter symbols.

Aerial spraying of plant protection products

Aerial spraying of PPPs by aircraft is prohibited by law in Slovenia. Aerial spraying increases the environmental burden of PPPs because it increases their drift. 

Aerial spraying includes drones, so their use for treatment with PPPs is also prohibited. 

Protection of the aquatic environment and drinking water from pollution by plant protection products

When introducing water protection measures, the Government complies with legislation in the field of water protection in Slovenia, which limits the use of PPPs along water surfaces and in water protection areas. Users must not use PPPs in the zone of:

  • 15 m from 1st category waters (these are: Adriatic sea, Bled lake, Bohinj lake, Cerknica lake, Sava (including Sava Bohinjka and Sava Dolinka), Tržiška Bistrica, Kokra, Selška and Poljanska Sora, Kamniška Bistrica, Ljubljanica, Savinja, Mirna (in Dolenjska region), Krka, Sotla, Kolpa, Drava, Meža with Mislinja, Dravinja, Pesnica, Mura, Ledava, Ščavnica, Rižana, Reka, Soča, Idrijca, Vipava, Dragonja, Nadiža, Idrija, Paka and other continental waters constituting or crossing the state border, and
  • 5 m from 2nd category waters (all other water surfaces).

 

In the process of authorisation, the properties of a PPP are assessed and a broader buffer zone is determined when necessary. PPP manufacturer indicates the width of the buffer zone on the PPP label. PPP users must read the instructions on the label before use.  

Groundwater directly used for drinking is protected from pollution by land use management within water protection areas.

To restrict the use of herbicides in public areas, including golf courses, sports fields and public economic infrastructure, such as roads and railways, the Government enforced the prohibition of use of weed control PPPs (i.e. herbicides) which becomes effective on 1 April 2021 for roads and railways and is effective from 1 October 2019 for other public areas.

Reduction of risks from the use of plant protection products in special areas

The process of PPP authorisation includes the assessment of risk from its use. The risk assessment includes the risk to human health (consumers, users of PPPs, bystanders, plantation or crop workers) and environmental risk. According to the assessment, the risk mitigation measures are identified and indicated on the PPP label. Generally, the obligations of PPP users are regulated. 

Specific areas are protected areas for water protection (water protection areas), habitat types, bird protection areas, areas in close proximity to public parks and gardens, sports, recreational, school and children's playgrounds, healthcare institutions, and recently treated areas used by or accessible to agricultural workers.

A PPP user must ensure that PPPs do not contaminate adjecent plants when used or due to their drift, leaching or draining. The PPP user shall ensure that PPPs do not come into direct contact with a body of surface and ground water or drinking water reserves; into direct contact with humans, plant storage or processing facilities, animal breeding and care facilities, beehives, residential buildings, schools and nursery schools, children's playgrounds and sports fields, healthcare institutions, retirement homes or other similar facilities. To prevent drift, PPP application shall be carried out at an appropriate distance from these facilities. 

In view of the properties of each PPP, the time when agricultural workers may not enter the treated surfaces is determined. This is called the re-entry period and its duration is indicated on the PPP label. 

On 1 October 2019, the prohibition of the use of herbicides (PPPs used for weed control) on public surfaces became effective; it will apply to roads and railways as of 1 April 2021. 

Handling and storage of plant protection products

PPP distributors and users must observe appropriate measures in the sale, storage and/or use of PPPs. 

PPPs must be stored in appropriate facilities with temperature, air humidity or light appropriate for individual PPPs. A PPP manufacturer indicates the storage conditions for individual PPPs on the label.

PPP distributors must be equipped with the following:

  • for wholesale distribution: a facility for the storage of PPPs and a facility for the temporary storage of waste PPPs, which must comply with regulations governing the storage of waste PPPs, waste hazardous substances and packaging waste. The facility for the temporary storage of PPPs must have two covered containers, one with an appropriate absorption agent and one (empty) for the temporary storage of bulk or spilled and waste PPPs.
  • for retail distribution: a facility for the storage of PPPs and a facility for the temporary storage of waste PPPs, which must comply with regulations governing the storage of waste PPPs, hazardous substances and packaging waste, a point of sale and workspace for a PPP advisor. The facility for temporary storage of PPPs must have two covered containers, one with appropriate absorption agent and one (empty) for temporary storage of bulk or spilled and waste PPPs.

PPPs must be packed in their original packaging, safely and transparently organised and arranged by categories of hazard or toxicity and types of use so that they are always accessible. The scheme of PPP distribution must be displayed in a visible spot in the storage facility. Distributors must regularly inspect the condition of PPPs and their packaging.

PPP users must store PPPs in their original packages separated from food and other objects of general use, out of the reach of children, under the conditions of temperature, humidity and light as provided by the PPP manufacturer on the label and in the instructions. Non-cleaned packages, the remnants of PPPs and PPPs for which the authorisation, permit or expiry date have expired (hereinafter: waste PPPs) must be disposed of as hazardous waste. Thoroughly emptied and cleaned packaging of solid or fluid PPPs shall be stored in a protected and dry place until disposal. Corks shall be stored separately beside bottles. Cleaned, drained and dried packages shall be disposed at collecting centres for cleaned PPP waste packages. PPP users shall keep waste PPPs that cannot be disposed of immediately in special covered non-flammable and anti-corrosive containers out of the reach of children in store facilities where PPPs are normally stored.

Remnants of spraying mixture may not be rinsed into surface water, water wells, sinks or drains, septic tanks and drainage ditches. In order to protect groundwater, point discharging of the sprayer tank of spray remnants or rinse water shall be prohibited. The water used for cleaning PPP application equipment shall be sprayed over an already treated area or over another biologically active area or over a system for biological degrading on the farm (biopurification).

Integrated pest management (IPM)

Integrated pest management is a set of agrotechnical measures aimed to reduce the consumption of PPPs. Preventive measures, such as crop rotation, optimal time of sowing or planting, cultivation according to the needs of plants, use of resistant/tolerant cultivars, and regular cleaning of equipment and machinery provide for appropriate conditions for plants and their growth, which boosts their resistance to pests. 

Producers should regularly inspect their plantations or crops. They can use low-risk pest control methods such as:

  1. – mechanic weed control,
  2. – mechanic removal of infected plants or their parts,
  3. PPPs based on extracts of microorganisms, herbal extracts, feromones and similar substances, 
  4. – beneficial organisms for biological plant protection,
  5. basic substances
  6. PPPs allowed in organic production

PPP users should also apply the information on damage thresholds if such exists and on the most appropriate time for the PPP application, the advice on the application of such PPPs that are as specific and effective as possible for the target and have the least side-effects on human health, non-target organisms and the environment. This information is disseminated by providers of the public plant health service.

PPP users must keep the records on the use of PPPs and the application of low-risk plant protection methods on the form Data on the use of PPPs in agricultural production and/or on the form Data on the use of PPPs in seed treatment facilities. The records as well as receipts for PPPs purchased must be kept for at least three years.  

An integrated pest management content website has been established where users are provided comprehensive information on measures to ensure plant health. The Government promotes an integral way of pest control that includes the use of plant protection products only when other measures do not ensure plant health and stable agricultural production.

 

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