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Research details


Pesticides were a key component of agricultural intensification and enhancement of crop yields and quality. With the growing human population, they are just as important today in providing a way to meet food demands. Despite this, pesticide use causes environmental concerns due to their potential persistence and toxicity. In order to properly evaluate this potential, it is vital to understand how pesticides behave under environmentally relevant conditions.

Regulatory tests need to be carried out to determine the risks before a pesticide can be produced and sold. These tests, however, do not adequately take into consideration several factors; light, microbial diversity, temporal variation, flowing water, or scale. The aim of this project is to determine the role of microbial and photodegradation on pesticide breakdown in flowing water systems. In particular focusing on how the exclusion of light in the regulatory study design may impact the outcome, and how these factors vary between seasons. Initial microcosm experiments will be followed by work in flume systems to simulate flowing water on a larger scale. This work will test the influence of a range of variables, such as light intensity and flow rate on degradation.


Rebecca Southwell

R dot V dot Southwell at warwick dot ac dot uk



Project title

The fate and degradation of pesticides in flowing water systems.


Gary Bending - University of Warwick Life Sciences

Jonty Pearson - Warwick School of Engineering

Laurence Hand - Syngenta


BBSRC Industrial CASE studentship with Syngenta (4 years)