Improper use of pesticides and unfavourable weather conditions in agriculture may cause either point or diffuse sources that can severely contaminate surface water. According to several studies carried out especially in Northern Europe, majority of risks are linked to point sources, that are mainly generated during the filling and cleaning of sprayers and are also related to the practices adopted for remnants management at the end of spray application. Between 2005 and 2008 EU-Life and ECPA (European Crop Protection Association) funded a project named TOPPS (Training of Operators to prevent Pollution from Point Sources) that was carried out in 15 EU countries and was aimed at defining and disseminating common Best Management Practices (BMP) to prevent point sources, considering the six phases covering transport of PPP, storage of PPP, spray mixture preparation and filling of sprayer, spray application, cleaning of sprayer and disposal of remnants of the spray mixture.
Starting from February 2011, ECPA funded a second project regarding diffuse sources, mainly related to run- off / erosion and to spray drift. The project is named TOPPS-PROWADIS (Train Operators and Promote best Practices and Sustainability – PROtect Water from Diffuse Sources) and involved 7 European countries. Scope of the project has been to develop EU harmonized Best Management Practices to mitigate risks of water contamination due to pesticide run-off and to spray drift and to disseminate them also through training activities and information materials. These activities are in line with the contents of EU Directive on sustainable use of pesticides (128/2009/EC) and were developed by two separate teams (one for drift and the other for run-off) established within the project.
On the basis of the work carried out, a complete framework of Best Management Practices, 117 to prevent point sources and 42 to prevent diffuse sources, - illustrated also through pictures and videos - has been realized, freely downloadable in different languages for the European advisers, technicians and farmers at the official TOPPS website (www.topps-life.org) as well as at the dedicated Italian website www.topps.unito.it.
Since 2012 dissemination of TOPPS BMPs among the Italian farmers advisers and consultants is carried out through specific training courses carried out in all Italian regions, where also the use of interactive tools supporting the farmers in the adoption of TOPPS BMPs (e.g. Drift Management Tool), is promoted and encouraged and still goes on in the ambit of TOPPS Water Protection project (2015-2018) mainly aimed at disseminating TOPPS BMPs and complete them regarding drainage and leaching.