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Field mixtures of currently used pesticides in agricultural soil pose a risk to soil invertebrates.

  • Panico, Speranza C1
  • van Gestel, Cornelis A M2
  • Verweij, Rudo A3
  • Rault, Magali4
  • Bertrand, Colette5
  • Menacho Barriga, Carlos A6
  • Coeurdassier, Michaël6
  • Fritsch, Clémentine6
  • Gimbert, Frédéric6
  • Pelosi, Céline7
  • 1 Department of Ecological Science, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081, HV, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Department of Biology, University of Naples Federico II, Via Cinthia, 80126, Naples, Italy. , (Italy)
  • 2 Department of Ecological Science, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081, HV, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address: [email protected] , (Netherlands)
  • 3 Department of Ecological Science, Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081, HV, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 4 Univ Avignon, Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, IRD, IMBE, Pôle Agrosciences, 301 rue Baruch de Spinoza, BP 21239, 84916, Avignon, France. , (France)
  • 5 UMR 1402 ECOSYS, INRAe, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 78026, Versailles, France. , (France)
  • 6 UMR 6249 Chrono-environnement CNRS - Université de Franche-Comté Usc INRAe, 16 route de Gray, 25030, Besançon, cedex, France. , (France)
  • 7 UMR 1114 EMMAH, INRAe, Avignon Université, 84914, Avignon, France. , (France)
Published Article
Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987)
Publication Date
Apr 15, 2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2022.119290
PMID: 35436506


Massive use of pesticides in conventional agriculture leads to accumulation in soil of complex mixtures, triggering questions about their potential ecotoxicological risk. This study assessed cropland soils containing pesticide mixtures sampled from conventional and organic farming systems at La Cage and Mons, France. The conventional agricultural field soils contained more pesticide residues (11 and 17 versus 3 and 11, respectively) and at higher concentrations than soils from organic fields (mean 6.6 and 10.5 versus 0.2 and 0.6 μg kg-1, respectively), including systemic insecticides belonging to neonicotinoids, carbamate herbicides and broad-spectrum fungicides mostly from the azole family. A risk quotient (RQi) approach evaluated the toxicity of the pesticide mixtures in soil, assuming concentration addition. Based on measured concentrations, both conventional agricultural soils posed high risks to soil invertebrates, especially due to the presence of epoxiconazole and imidacloprid, whereas soils under organic farming showed negligible to medium risk. To confirm the outcome of the risk assessment, toxicity of the soils was determined in bioassays following standardized test guidelines with seven representative non-target invertebrates: earthworms (Eisenia andrei, Lumbricus rubellus, Aporrectodea caliginosa), enchytraeids (Enchytraeus crypticus), Collembola (Folsomia candida), oribatid mites (Oppia nitens), and snails (Cantareus aspersus). Collembola and enchytraeid survival and reproduction and land snail growth were significantly lower in soils from conventional compared to organic agriculture. The earthworms displayed different responses: L. rubellus showed higher mortality on soils from conventional agriculture and large body mass loss in all field soils, E. andrei showed considerable mass loss and strongly reduced reproduction, and A. caliginosa showed significantly reduced acetylcholinesterase activity in soils from conventional agriculture. The oribatid mites did not show consistent differences between organic and conventional farming soils. These results highlight that conventional agricultural practices pose a high risk for soil invertebrates and may threaten soil functionality, likely due to additive or synergistic "cocktail effects". Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

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