The E-Flows mesocosm has been developed by Fera Science Limited in partnership with CHAP and is now available for commercial and R&D projects. This is Europe’s most advanced edge-of-field water assessment facility, which enables environmental testing of plant protection products to meet the most stringent regulatory standards, helping to introduce a wider range of more effective products to market more quickly and to help farmers tackle threats to their crops.
The end result is that the risk assessments will be based on more realistic data, likely to lead to greater choice of products for the agricultural sector in support of a more sustainable food production.
Industries which require data for the fate and aquatic ecotoxicology of the products they produce or use can also benefit from the E-Flows mesocosm.
The Edge of Field Waterbody Safety Assessment Facility (E-Flows) is the first of its type with fully flow through streams that can receive chemicals at the treatment rates predicted to occur in the environment, accurately reproducing a real environment to evaluate new products.
Based at Sand Hutton near York in North Yorkshire, the combination of the aquatic laboratory facilities, offered by Fera Science Ltd, for lower tier studies and the E-Flows mesocosm, managed and operated by Fera in partnership high-quality aquatic ecotoxicology data required for regulatory submission.
E-Flows comprises 60 experimental units (all flow-through streams), with each stream (or ditch) measuring 10 metres long, up to 0.4 metres deep and up to 2 metres wide at the surface, with a v-shaped cross-section. Each unit ends in a capture pond, approximately 1 metre deep and 1 metre in diameter. Where the average experiment requires access to 20-30 units (according to EFSA Guidance) the E-Flows facility has the capacity to support 2-3 independent concurrent experiments, reducing the waiting time for users.
The flow through and experimental unit size of E-Flows can be varied to a great extent; the length of unit can be shortened, and flow increased (giving a retention time of <0.1 days and an effective volume of 750,000 litres per unit). Alternatively, otherwise independent units can be combined to increase the habitat area, and flow can be reduced to simulate slow ditches or static ponds.
The increased size and realism of the experimental units provide scope to establish a wide diversity of macrophytes and invertebrates, allowing a greater range of available resources and refugia, consequently reducing the stress associated with an artificial environment. This both increases the validity of the results for the Specific Protection Goal and reduces the chance of the design of the experiment adversely influencing the outcome of the risk assessment. By this means, the safety factors applied to the regulatory values can be reduced (as low as a factor of two).
The CHAP E-Flows mesocosm benefits from a continuous water supply via a borehole from the Grade A sandstone aquifer below it. It is also ideally placed in the northern extent of the lowland growing region, providing the best estimate of realistic to worst case risk assessment.
Serving the agrochemical industry
For any further information about this capability or to discuss a collaboration and/or grant for a commercially funded project, complete the form below.