Precision farming – consideration of reduced exposure in the pollinator risk assessment
Observed declines in the distribution and abundance of various insect species have moved the topic of biodiversity and the protection of honey bees, an insect species of particular economic interest, into the focus of public attention. This also resulted in an increasing public pressure to reform the European agricultural policy and as part of this to minimise the amount of synthetic plant protection products used. In this context, so-called ‘precision farming’ offers a considerable potential for a reduced application of plant protection products by using precision application techniques that allow to adjust applications to the actual scale of target distribution within a field. Is however currently not possible to exactly quantify the subsequent decrease of exposure of non-target organisms. Focusing on honey bees, the authors are therefore in a first step proposing a field study design to quantify the direct and indirect exposure of honey bees and their colonies in relation to the ratio of treated to untreated field area and the application pattern used. Furthermore, parameters of the bee risk assessment scheme are discussed that could be suitable to describe exposure reduction by precision application.