Plant Protection Products

Establishing the representativeness of available surface water scenarios for pesticide risk assessment in Norway


Report no: 2021: 11

Published: 15.06.2021

Key message:

The scenarios for modelling for runoff and drainage to surface water, used in environmental risk assessment of plant protection products in the EU, are not relevant for Norway due to differences in temperature differences conditions.

Thus concludes the Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) after evaluation of the ten FOCUS scenarios. Their assessment shows that all the analyzed agricultural areas representative of Norway have lower temperatures than the FOCUS definitions for runoff and drainage to surface water.

Lower temperature means higher risk of pollution of pesticides. That means the ten FOCUS scenarios do not give sufficient protection to Norwegian agriculture without correction of the temperature in the models used for risk assessment.


FOCUS (Forum for Coordination of pesticide fate models and their Use) was established by the European Commission and the agriculture industry, in order to develop guidelines for mathematical models used in the approval process for of plant protection products.

Currently, FOCUS scenarios based on site-specific data from different locations in Europe are used in approving plant protection products in Norway, and for assessing risk of runoff and drainage to surface water.

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has requested an assessment of whether these scenarios are representative of Norwegian conditions. VKM also examined four Norwegian scenarios for runoff and drainage to surface water.


“There are no locations in Norway that completely fulfill the FOCUS definitions for runoff and drainage to surface water. Thus, it can be assumed that none of the FOCUS scenarios are representative of the Norwegian agricultural area and protect sufficiently without correction of the temperature in the models used in the risk assessment,” says Ole Martin Eklo, Chair of the VKM project.

Temperatures in Norway are lower than all FOCUS scenarios, between 2°C and 8°C.

The majority (86.5 percent) of agricultural land in Norway which is vulnerable to runoff to surface water via drainage, has lower spring and autumn temperatures than the FOCUS definitions include.

"By having adapted the FOCUS scenarios to Norwegian temperature conditions, many places in Norway meet some of the FOCUS definitions," Eklo points out.
According to the analyses, the four Norwegian scenarios for plant protection product runoff are much better adapted to agricultural areas in Norway than the FOCUS scenarios are, due to the differences in temperatures.


According to FOCUS, it is not possible to cover all agronomic situations resulting in the transport of plant protection products to surface water.

The assessment has been approved by VKM's Panel on Plant Protection.

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