Overview Objectives

The project aims to develop modern risk-based approaches for reducing off-site impacts of pesticides applied to field crops, in order to protect human health, fisheries and aquatic ecosystems. This involves integrating information on pesticide use, site conditions, and the environmental fate and behaviour of pesticides in selected catchments in the Philippines and Australia. Scientists conducted a risk assessment of off-site impacts of agricultural systems, using tools such as CSIRO’s Pesticide Impact Rating Index (PIRI), to integrate factors for use by water resource managers, policy makers and community organisations.

Project Background and Objectives

Over the last two-three decades pesticide use has increased in both Australia and the Philippines. In the Philippines, during 1977 and 1991 total pesticide use increased from 3738 to 10,773 tonnes. The three important crops using pesticides in the Philippines are vegetables, banana and rice. While the total use of pesticides in rice is the largest (due to a large area under rice production) pesticides are most intensively used in vegetable crops. Pesticide sales in Australia also increased, from A$166 million in 1981 to A$1107 million in 1997, which indicates that pesticide use has significantly increased during the period - in particular for cotton, horticulture (fruits and vegetables), rice, sugarcane, grains and oilseed crops.
Pesticide usage patterns differ markedly between Australia and the Philippines. In Australia the dominant use of pesticides is as herbicides (65%), whereas the insecticides are the most commonly used group (46%) in the Philippines. Although growers in the Philippines are changing to less toxic pesticides, the majority are generally highly toxic to fish. Furthermore, these pesticides also show a high potential to bioaccumulate in fish and other aquatic organisms. Conditions of terrain and climate in the Philippines could also exacerbate the problem of off-site migration and adverse impact of pesticides. Steep slopes and heavy rains lead to severe flooding and high erosion losses; the risks in these situations of off-site migration of pesticides and threats to water resources are relatively high.

Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

This report summarises research that was conducted during the period 1 January to 31 December 2001. Major achievements for this period include:

Establishing links with clients and stakeholders in Australia and the Philippines.
A project workshop in the Philippines on Risk-based approach for minimising pesticide impact’ involving key stakeholders including natural resource managers, growers, regulatory bodies, local councils and non-government organisations.
Identification of study catchments in the Philippines and Australia;
Appointment of staff in Australia and the Philippines.
Collation of pesticide use and other input data for risk assessment studies.
Upgrade of some laboratory facilities in the Philippines.
Assistance to project team on study protocols and initiation of field and laboratory experiments in the participating organisations.
Establishment of plan for future studies.

The project was approved by ACIAR and CSIRO in January 2001 subject to approval by the University of the Philippines, Los Baos (UPLB) and the Government of the Philippines. The approval by the UPLB was delayed considerably and it was only granted in the last week of June 2001. Consequently the project could effectively start in July 2001. This report therefore is based on about 6 months of project activities from July to Dec 2001.

To provide a kick-start to the project, immediately a workshop was organised, as planned in the project, in the Philippines on August 29, 2001 at National Crop Protection Centre of UPLB. This workshop was highly successful in bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, discussing the project approach and have their input and commitment to the project. Prior to the workshop, ACIAR Program leader introduced the project team to Agriculture and Resource Management Research Division, PCARRD at Los Baos, who role is to facilitate and monitor the progress on the Philippines side.

The majority of staff was appointed to the project immediately after the Philippines authorities approved the project. However, some delay has occurred in appointing a post doc fellow to the Australian component of the project. The candidate, to whom the offer was made, failed to take up the position and consequently CSIRO internal staff has now been appointed. Similarly in the Philippines, some delays in appointment of one staff were experienced due to late release of funds by the Bank in the Philippines.

The study sites and catchments have been identified for both Australian and Philippine components. Good working relationships with the stakeholders have been established. The preliminary surveys of pesticide use data in the catchments have been carried out. The preliminary risk assessment for the sites is in progress. The study protocols (e.g. algae and shrimp test, QA/QC for sampling) have been discussed between the two teams in host and partner country. In addition, some monitoring has commenced in the study catchments.

The main objective of this project is to introduce a risk-based approach to the scientists, regulators and catchment management personnel, leading to development of risk management strategies for minimising impacts of pesticides on water quality in the Philippines.

Following a highly successful workshop at the start of the project in the Philippines, involving natural reosurce managers, regulatory agencies, researchers, growers and on-government organisations and other interested parties in the Philippines, training was provided to two Filipino scientists in Australia on use of Pesticide Impact Rating Index (PIRI)- a risk assessment software, and on pesticide toxicity tests. PIRI was customized to take the tropical climatic conditions of the Philippines.

Several study-sites were selected in the Philippines and Australia to cover a range of landuses. These sites, in the Philippines, were located in subcatchments of two very important lake systems, Laguna and Taal Lakes, were selected for the study. The important agricultural landuse in these subcatchments were rice, vegetables and fruits. In Australia, the study-sites were selected in both temperate and tropical ecosystems. Sixth Creek subcatchment represented temperate environment whereas the Ord River Irrigation area, a tropical ecosystem. In addition, for groundwater impact assessment, viticulture in the southeast of South Australia was selected. The groundwater aquifers in the region are very valuable resource supplying water for drinking, irrigation and other purposes.

The necessary input data for the risk assessment, such as, pesticide use rates, frequencies, method of application were collected through surveys. Site specific parameters such as topographical conditions, soil and environment data were collated from various sources. The pesticide fate and toxicological data were taken from literature. The PIRI software was then applied by Filipino and Australian scientists to carry out risk assessment for the selected landuses in the study area. The pesticides with significant risk to the water resources were identified for further studies. Several
pesticides were noted to have moderate to high risk to aquaculture and ecosystem health in both Philippines and Australia.

Monitoring programs (involving samples of water, sediment and aquatic fauna) were established in the selected catchments, to assess the validity of predicted migration potential of pesticides during the risk assessment process. The residues were analysed for the pesticides identified in the risk assessment process. From the limited monitoring so far, some pesticides rated to be of high risk have been detected in some of the Australian and Fillipino study sites. The pesticides detected so far include atrazine, endosulfan, chlorpyrifos (in Australia) and butachlor and cypermethrin (in the Philippines). For the groundwater component, lysimeters were instrumented in a study site in south-eastern Australia.

Simultaneously, laboratory investigations were initiated to gain toxicity data on the species of local relevance in both Australia and the Philippines. Training was also provided to a Filipino scientist on methods of pesticide toxicity testing. In these tests, the two important fish species (tilapia and milkfish) in the Laguna and Taal Lakes in the Philippines, were used. Tests on shrimp species for pesticide toxicity have also been initiated to assess the food chain impact. In Australia, the toxicity tests have been conducted on frog, waterflea and midges to represent different trophic levels in the aquatic ecosystem.

A workshop has been organised in March 2003 in the Phillipines, to share the progress of the project and enhance a two-way communication between the project staff and the stakeholders.

The project has made significant progress towards extending a risk-based approach to stakeholders in the Philippines and Australia to minimise off-site impacts of pesticides on water quality. The stakeholders involved in the project include natural resource managers (e.g. Laguna Lake Development Authority, Ord Land and Water Inc.), regulators (Fertiliser and Pesticide Authority of the Philippines; Water and Rivers Commission of Western Australia) growers, and other stakeholders (e.g. Philippines Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development).
Recognising the importance of continuous engagement of stakeholders in the project, two stakeholders workshops were held in the Philippines during the year (March and August 2003). The March communication workshop was organised to share the progress of the project and enhance a two-way communication between the project staff and the stakeholders. An additional training workshop was conducted in August 2003 to train staff from several different agencies on the use of the Pesticide Impact Rating Index (PIRI). Similarly, in Australia, a communication workshop was held with growers in the Ord River Irrigation Area in March 2003. A hands-on training workshop on PIRI was held in Adelaide in August 2003. A highly positive feedback was received from the participants.
Philippines scientists assessed the potential risks of pesticides in a range of land uses in the sub-catchments of Laguna and Taal Lakes, using the customised version of PIRI. The pesticides identified to present significant potential risks were included in the monitoring programs (involving samples of water, sediment and aquatic fauna). Occasionally residues at trace level concentrations of pyrethrin insecticides (cypermethrin, deltamethrin, lambda cyhalothrin) organophosphate insecticides (triazophos, methamidophos) and herbicides (diuron, butachlor) have been detected in water and sediments. The relationship of these with PIRI assessments is being investigated.
In Australia, the study-sites cover temperate (Sixth Creek sub-catchment) and tropical climatic zones (Ord River Irrigation area). Following PIRI assessments, monitoring of pesticide residues has been carried out at these sites. In the Sixth Creek sub-catchment simazine, carbaryl, chlorpyrifos and endosulfan were detected in some sediment samples. These were generally consistent with the mobility rating provided to pesticides by PIRI. In the Ord River Irrigation Area, risk assessment by PIRI lead to identification of pesticides that need to be targeted for on-farm management. An option paper was prepared and discussed with the growers. This results in identification of grower-preferred management options for trial and demonstration, with these trials now underway.
For the groundwater component of PIRI assessment, instrumented lysimeters were used. Drainage through these lysimeters occurred, from September 2003 onwards after no drainage for two years. The water samples are in the process of being analysed for pesticides.
To generate relevant environmental fate and ecotoxicological data for improved risk assessment, the laboratory experiments continued during the year on these aspects. Tests on shrimp species for pesticide toxicity were initiated in the Philippines. Shrimp are consumed by humans and are a food source for fish in the Lakes. Some fine-tuning was needed following use of the shrimp test protocols. In Australia, the toxicity tests have been conducted on frog, waterflea and midges, to represent different trophic levels in the aquatic ecosystem. Sorption and degradation studies on pesticides in Australian and Philippines soils are continuing.

The main objective of this project is to introduce a risk-based approach to the scientists, regulators and catchment management personnel, leading to development of risk management strategies for minimising impacts of pesticides on water quality in the Philippines.

There has been a significant capacity building and training programme activities in 2004. A staff member from the Philippines, Belen Quintana, came to Australia for training (April-May) and gained skills conducting experiments to assess the sorption behaviour of pesticides in soils. She also extended her experience in performing pesticide analyses by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and in using Excel spreadsheets.

Later in the year (June 1-15, 2004) Dr Anu Kumar travelled to the Philippines to further train the Filipino team in toxicity tests. She provided training in the following areas:
Identifying and solving problems associated with the use of native Filipino shrimp species, Macrobrachium sp. for bioassays;
Setting-up bioassays using local duckweed (Lemna) species; and
Conducting additional fish bioassays using early life stages (ELS) of Tilapia such as 24 h old fertilized embryo exposed to pesticides for 7 days.

A summary of the significant achievements:

Two experiments were conducted in the Ord River Irrigation Area (ORIA) to minimize off-site movement of pesticides. Incorporation of pesticides with power harrows before irrigation decreased off-site movement of pesticides by up to 74% and the addition of polyacrylamide to head channel water decreased off-site movement of pesticides by up to 58%.
New knowledge on sorption behaviour of diuron, imidacloprid and thiacloprid pesticides was developed on soils collected from the ORIA, the study sites in the Philippines and from different landuses in the Mt Lofty Ranges study area. The study showed that soils from tropical region did not behave significantly different to those from the temperate region.
Belen Quintana visited Australia for 4 weeks to gain experience in conducting sorption experiments, using the HPLC for pesticide analyses and performing calculations in Excel.
A one-day workshop was held at Coonawarra in the Southeast of South Australia. The workshop was attended by key stakeholders of the Wrattonbully and Limestone Coast wine producers. A successful half-day grower meeting was held in the ORIA to communicate latest findings from the project. Gowers are adopting the project findings.

Toxicity data was also determined for a range of pesticides and fingerlings of Tilapia.
The PIRI assessment of risk of off-site movement of pesticides from different agricultural activities in the Philippines was refined using local temperature data, changing the mode of application and using LC50 for a local fish (Tilapia sp.) rather than the literature data for rainbow trout.
Degradation and sorption data were obtained for pesticides on Philippine soils.
Filipino staffs were trained to conduct toxicity testing with duckweed, shrimp and early life stages of Tilapia.
Stakeholder workshops were held during the year to disseminate project findings.
Tagalok version of PIRI was developed and introduced in the Philippines.

Project Outcomes

The team compiled an inventory of pesticides used and application practices for different land uses in the Laguna and Taal Lake area, in the Philippines, in the 6th Creek sub catchment, Mt. Lofty Ranges, South Australia and in the Ord River Irrigation Area, Western Australia. Three separate booklets were published, each one containing the PIRI assessment where a range of scenarios was considered. Information was also given about aspects of variability in data collection and pesticide use. A summary of major chemicals of concern, due to a high risk of off-site migration or risk of adverse ecotoxicological impact (as determined by PIRI), was provided for each land use investigated.
Three training courses were run in the Philippines, assisting the transfer of the risk-based approach including PIRI to resource managers (particularly government regulators and organisations involved in catchment management and integrated pest management (IPM) programs). Filipino colleagues were also trained in protocols for assessment of environmental fate and effects of pesticides, namely (i) to conduct pesticide sorption studies and (ii) ecotoxicological studies using organisms that are relevant to their environment - especially shrimp (Macrobrachium sp.), juvenile fish (Tilapia sp.) and native duckweed (Lemna sp.). The training sessions gave an opportunity to identify and overcome problems encountered with specific experiments, enhancing the capacity of the project team and adding valuable Philippine-specific information into the database.
A better understanding of environmental fate and ecological impact of selected pesticides on land and water resources in the Philippines and Australia was developed from studies in Australia on the sorption behaviour of selected pesticides in tropical soils from Australia and the Philippines and temperate soils from the Mt. Lofty Ranges, Australia. Also, ecotoxicological studies using species relevant to the Philippines have provided valuable data for customising PIRI for the Filipino conditions.
The assessment of pesticides impact on water resources in the Philippines was only done in a broad preliminary manner where the pesticide toxicity data for selected local aquatic organisms were compared with pesticide residue levels obtained from grab samples collected twice a year. In Australia, a more comprehensive assessment involved ecotoxicological analysis of samples collected from aquatic ecosystems. But in both cases it was not possible to quantify loads of pesticides moving off-site, due to lack of flow data. The toxicity tests on aquatic organisms showed that some of the pesticides detected in waterways in the Philippines and Australia are below the levels that produce acute toxicity. But they still can have chronic toxic effects (e.g. abnormalities in susceptible newly hatched fish larvae).
Strategies for both Filipino and Australian conditions were suggested that minimised off-site transport of pesticides. Pesticides with high, medium or low risk rating were identified for various land uses in both countries. In Philippines, simple measures such as plugging the leaking bunds in rice paddies were suggested to minimise direct pesticide migration into adjacent drains and stream. In Australia, measures such as light incorporation of pesticides in soil after spraying were recommended, but assessment of the efficacy of these strategies was beyond the scope of this project.
In the Philippines and Mt. Lofty Ranges, South Australia, pesticides were monitored at several locations in the main creeks and rivers. Certain pesticides (e.g. diuron, butachlor, simazine, herbicides and chlorpyrifos, methamidophos and pyrethroid insecticides) were detected in sediment and water samples in both countries. The monitoring program was intended to provide a snapshot assessment to establish if the pesticides were moving off-site or not and was not designed to quantify the loading from a selected land-use. Therefore, the potential risk they posed to organisms in the rivers and the receiving lakes are not clear at this stage. The detected pesticides and other pesticides identified in the PIRI assessment will provide the basis for future work to develop management strategies to minimise off-site migration.

Project ID
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Commissioned Organisation
CSIRO Land and Water, Australia
Project Leader
Dr Rai Kookana
08 8303 8450
08 8303 8565
Collaborating Institutions
University of the Philippines at Los Banos, Philippines
CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences, Australia
University of South Australia, Australia
Project Budget
Start Date
Finish Date
Extension Start Date
Extension Finish Date
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Ian Willett