Embrapa Western Agriculture – Agricultural research has sought to develop technologies to minimize the impacts of agricultural activity on the environment. A major concern is to prevent pesticide, used to protect crops against the pest attacks, diseases and weeds may contaminate the environment. After application of these products much of it is deposited in the soil, can be carried to the groundwater and / or surface. Thus, there is an urgent necessity to assess the environmental fate of pesticide currently in use in agriculture.
Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the environmental performance of some pesticide for Brazilian conditions of soil and climate. For example, experiments were performed during the harvest 2008/2009 and 2009/2010, in the experimental fields of Embrapa Western Agriculture in Dourados and Ponta Porã, to evaluate the leaching (movement of the agrochemicals in the soil profile together with rain water) and persistence of some pesticide used on soybeans. These experiments are quite costly, since it demand analyzes and requires expensive laboratory equipment, and specialized labor. Moreover, the conclusions obtained in these experiments are applied generally to a particular type of soil, crop, weather condition and pesticide.
Forth of a great number of pesticide currently on the market and given the different climatic conditions and soil (agricultural scenarios), that these products should be studied to evaluate the environmental performance; several experiments should be performed, requiring large amounts of financial resources, hand labor and time.
To overcome this situation, researchers of the worldwide have joined efforts to create computer programs that replicate the environmental behavior of pesticide under conditions that are used. Thus, through a computer program, it is possible to predict whether a particular pesticide, in a given soil condition and climate, may contaminate, for example, surface water and / or groundwater. These computer programs are already widely used in member countries of the European Community and also the United States, during the evaluation of the environmental hazards of a pesticide that is intended to be launched on the market.
Some countries have made use of these computer programs as a obligation for the evaluation of the environmental hazards of a new pesticide. The main advantages of using these computer programs for evaluating the environmental hazards of pesticide are: low cost, faster evaluation and obtaining results, greater representation in the ratings (already as they can evaluate various scenarios for farming), etc.
In this sense, Embrapa Western Agriculture, has developed a computer program called ACHA, abbreviation in Portuguese (Assessment of Water Contamination by pesticides) capable of simulating the behavior of pesticides in Brazilian soils. For example, the ACHA program assesses the depth that a pesticide, after being applied to a specific culture and climate conditions, can reach and informing potential for groundwater contamination.
In addition, the program provides information on the persistence of the pesticide in the soil in which it was applied, taking into account the influence of moisture and soil temperature, and microbial activity. The research project that had as final product the ACHA program was funded by Embrapa (Agro future Program/ International Development Bank – BID) and CNPq (CT-HYDRO), in partnership with the course of Computer Science, State University of Mato Grosso do Sul (UEMS). Initially, the ACHA’s program will be available to the government agencies that deal with the assessment of environmental hazards of pesticides.
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