skip to content | Accessibility Information

Prize for pesticide research

Published: 2nd December 2005

MMU research which highlights the effects of pesticide has won a major award for taking good care of the environment.

Researchers in the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences were presented with the Green Apple runner up award at the House of Commons.

The prize in the farming and agricultural category focused on the impact the new, environmentally-friendly pesticides had on the presence and health of predatory spiders in crops such as cauliflower and cabbage.

The findings showed that spiders exposed to the new pesticides had a reduced ability to capture their prey but they recovered quickly enough to survive.

Benefits to farmers

Results were used to demonstrate to farmers the benefits of careful pesticide application and in particular the value of leaving field margins unsprayed.

The research also established that informed application of pesticides could reduce environmental damage and retain the economic value of the crop.

Dr Pete Dunleavy, a principal lecturer in agriculture and the environment, who collected the award, said: “When the spiders were introduced to the pesticide it took them longer to create functional webs. Non-web building spiders still managed to create functional webs even though they tottered around like they were drunk.”

Unique study

The unique research is the first attempt to quantify the impacts of a pesticide on a Linyphiidae spider’s web building behaviour.

PhD researcher Emma Shaw and her team monitored pesticide use on farms in Hesketh Bank and Irlam in Lancashire and focused on the presence and health of predatory spiders in brassica crops. (Cabbage, rape, turnip, and mustard).

The prize was jointly awarded to agronomical firm Environmental Crop Management and MMU, whose 15-year partnership has established contacts with over 2,000 farmers in the North West.

The Green Apple Awards are awarded by The Green Organisation, which is supported by Environment Agency and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.