According to the Belgian National Action Plan to reduce pesticide use outside of crop areas and grasslands the following buffer zones apply:
· alongside surface waters over a minimum width of 6 metres from the peak of the bank, and which may not be less than the zone defined in the approval certificate for each pesticide;
· alongside “paved land not suitable for crops” (impermeable surfaces or surfaces with low permeability, such as roads, pavements, paving, gravel, etc.) connected to a rainwater collection system (e.g.: grid, downpipe, water trickle, etc.), with a width of 1 metre;
· downstream from “loose land permanently without crops” (e.g. waste ground, slopes, etc.) subject to runoff due to a slope of 10% or more and which is adjacent to “paved land not suitable for crops” connected to a rainwater collection centre system with a width of 1 metre from the slope break.
The application of plant protection products is prohibited on “paved land not suitable for crops” (impermeable surfaces or surfaces with low permeability such as roads, pavements, paving, gravel, etc.) connected to a rainwater collection system or directly to surface water.
To date the Flemish and the Brussels regional plans seems behind the Walloon one in the implementation of Belgian action plan to reduce the risks and impacts linked to pesticides 2013-2017 (11). As a consequence, most content on this page refers to Wallonia.
In order to protect specific areas from PPPs the actions involve a 10 - 50 metre untreated buffer zone around some areas or buildings used by vulnerable groups (crèches, schools, playgrounds, picnic areas, hospitals, retirement homes, etc.).
The overall Belgian law foresees buffer zones ranging from 2-200 m, depending on the risk of a particular pesticide for aquatic organisms. ("Le respect d'une zone tampon"). A non-treated buffer zone of minimum 1 meter (for boom sprayers) or minimum 3 meters (for orchard sprayers) with regard to surfaces that may not be sprayed (adjacent field, ditch, hedge, road side).
This rule does not apply in case, for instance, if two farmers agree that the spray drift of the adjacent field does not harm the crops on the other field.
The Flemish Parliament Decree on Integrated Water Policy (Articles 9 and 10, 2°) lays down a number of rules regarding riparian zones and the use of pesticides in these riparian zones. For instance, the application of pesticides, with the exception of rodenticides, is prohibited in riparian zones. If the riparian zone only includes the slopes, the application of pesticides is prohibited within one metre inland from the top edge of the slope of the surface water body. The Flemish Decree and Government Decision on Pesticide Reduction implicitly mention the protection of the aquatic environment. The run-off into surface water, for instance, is minimised as a result of the prohibition on the use of pesticides on sealed surfaces in the public space. Furthermore, a prohibition of the use of pesticides will also enter into force in Type III groundwater protection zones from 1 January 2015 onwards.
The prohibition of the direct and indirect discharge, disposal, storage on or in the soil, application and transport of pesticides in type II and III protection zones is laid down in the Government of Flanders Decision of 27 March 1985 regulating operations within water catchment areas and protection zones.
Drift reduction technology and buffer zone width
Good Agricultural Practices foresee a buffer zone of 1 meter with regard to surfaces that may not be sprayed.
The width of the buffer zone (2, 5,10,20, 30 m) and the drift reduction (50%, 75%, 90%) are indicated on the product label. However, farmers can modulate the width of the buffer zone depending on the product and the applied spray drift reduction material. ("Largeur de la zone tampon et pourcentage de réduction de dérive")
For field sprayers:
For orchard sprayers (incl.hop)