This study examines whether pesticide risk indicators can be used to evaluate the environmental effects of pesticide applications within integrated pest management (IPM) projects. Pesticide risk indicators, commonly used in European countries, are mathematical equations that consider data inputs such as application rates, toxicity levels of a pesticide's active ingredient, meteorological data, the soil characteristics of farm fields, and other information to generate potential risk scores for pesticide applications. These potential risk scores represent the best estimate of a pesticide's impact on the surrounding environment. This project analyzed eight pesticide risk indicators, developed throughout Europe and the United States, with two years of pesticide application data from four farms using IPM. This two-year study allowed for a determination of the validity and reliability of pesticide risk indicators. The findings reveal that only three pesticide risk indicators performed consistently and gave valid results. These indicators are: the synoptic evaluation model for plant protection agents (SYNOPS) indicator from Germany, the multi-attribute toxicity factor from the United States, and the environmental impact quotient from the United States. As a result, the authors recommend these three indicators for future research and for IPM evaluative efforts that emphasize the environmental effects of pesticides.
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