Biobeds and decontamination of agricultural pesticide wastes

During the last years special attention has been paid to environmental protection and especially to the protection of surface water and underground aquifers from contamination due to pesticides. Approval and permitting of pesticides usage in EU requires long-term studies regarding the potential risk of these substances to environment, public health and agriculture in general. The pollution of water resources due to pesticides is caused by point and surface sources. Experimental data from north European countries prove that sprayer washing is a significant point source of pesticide pollution. Post harvest fruit handling involving the embalming into water suspensions that include exceptionally high concentrations of fungicides is another important point source of water pollution with PP. This wastewater contains extremely high fungicide concentrations and, therefore, its’’ safe management is very important for the protection of both the environment and public health.

The decontamination of these wastes can be performed with the installation of biofilters in the fields which are called "biobeds". Biobeds are actually small blind holes in the ground filled with a biomixture of soil/straw/turf at a volume ratio of 25/50/25%. Rails are set on their surface and the sprayer is positioned above so that after the washing the water refuge ends up in the plant-covered biobed. Biobed's ability to decontaminate these wastes is based on their high biological activity and absorbing capability. This model though comes in several variations according to each region's needs and conditions (environmental and other).

This project, called "BIOBEDS", was funded by the Research Promotion Foundation of the Republic of Cyprus and aims at the construction of model "biobeds" adapted to the environmental and climatic conditions of Cyprus as well as to the agricultural practices that are being used on the island in order to prevent environmental pollution. For the accomplishment of the project's goals 4 research groups, with significant experience in related research fields cooperated.