Sustainable Pesticide Management

Module summary

Module code: AGRI1282
Level: 7
Credits: 15
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Natural Resources Institute
Module Coordinator(s): Richard Fuchs



Using crop protection chemicals currently helps to maintain high levels of agricultural productivity and prevent cataclysmic losses which pests, diseases and weeds can cause. Among growers, politicians and technical experts there is general agreement that pesticides will continue to be essential tools for the foreseeable future in maintaining and improving standards of living for an increasing global population. However there is a growing unease among members of the public about potential dangers of using pesticides. It is essential to understand what they can and cannot achieve, and how they can be used in the safest and most appropriate way so that they do not themselves cause problems. In the face of increasing pressure to reduce reliance on agricultural chemicals, this Module explains the role of pesticides and explores how measures can be taken by growers, legislators and manufacturers to improve safety and efficiency. The Module also demonstrates how pesticides can be applied scientifically, and in ways which pose minimal risks to consumers and the environment, using examples based on NRI experience.

The aims of the Module are:
• to develop skills in assessing the risks and benefits posed by pesticides;
• to develop an understanding of how pesticides can be used safely and effectively in agriculture and public health;
• to develop an awareness of national and international legislation and regulation relating to the import, distribution and safe management of pesticides;
• to examine the role of pesticides in agriculture and other pest and disease control situations;
• to enable students to make rational decisions on choice, dose and application equipment;
• to develop an awareness of the requirements for dietary risk assessment.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:
1. have a balanced view on the pros and cons of using chemical pesticides versus alternative methods;
2. make a rational choice of pest management including pesticide and pesticide application equipment according to circumstances;
3. show an understanding of the requirements for the safe storage, handling and distribution of pesticides;
4. show an awareness of the implications of pesticide use on the environment.

Indicative content

Pests and pesticides in context:
• Population growth and how this affects available arable land;
• Increased demands on agricultural production in terms of cost, quantity and quality from expanding population coupled with higher consumer expectations;
• Challenges in choice of pest management method including historic perspectives and future trends;
• Difficulties making choice of method or product to match the pest management needs and circumstances.

Component technologies:
* Pesticides - chemistry and biological activity of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc;
* Decision tools for pesticide applications, scouting and action thresholds, expert systems;
* Application equipment and methods;
* Monitoring methods and equipment for assessing spray deposition, spray drift, operator exposure and residues in produce;

Legislation and regulatory action
* Regulatory classification of pesticides - hazard levels; prohibited, restricted, etc.
* Maximum residue levels;
* Principles of pesticide legislation;
* The influence of legislation and policy on pesticide use patterns.

Teaching and learning activity

Lectures and tutorials will be supplemented by practicals that will include the use of equipment for pesticide application and its calibration. Case studies and the Exam of international and national legislation and policy will be included.


Essay - 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
Essay on a topic set by the module tutor. 2,000 words. Learning outcomes 1 & 4.

Presentation - 50% weighting, 50% pass mark.
15 minute presentation on a selected topic followed by question/answer session. Learning outcomes 1, 2 & 5.

Formative Assessment - A quiz will be held during a class to assess student’s knowledge and progress in the module.