Effectiveness of Vegetated Buffer Strips in Reducing Pesticide Transport in S imulated Runoff

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Arora, Kapil
Mickelson, Steven
Baker, James
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Mickelson, Steven
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Several processes take place within vegetated buffer strips that affect their performance. To better understand these processes, a runoff study was conducted to evaluate vegetated buffer strips performance in reducing atrazine, metolachlor, and chlorpyrifos transport as affected by the drainage area to buffer strip area ratio. The simulated runoff water mixed with pesticide–treated soil was distributed onto six vegetated buffer strips, each 1.52 m wide . 20.12 m long, located downslope of the inflow distribution tank in a well established vegetated grassed waterway. These strips provided for three replications of two inflow rates designated as “drainage area/buffer strip area ratio treatments” of 15:1 and 30:1. Infiltration for the 15:1 treatment averaged 38.8% of the inflow volume, whereas it averaged 30.4% for the 30:1 treatment. Sediment retention efficiencies averaged 90.1% and 86.8% for the 15:1 and 30:1 treatments, respectively. Concentrations of atrazine and metolachlor associated with sediment outflows from the strips were larger than their respective inflow concentrations, while the results were opposite for chlorpyrifos. Concentrations in runoff water for both atrazine and metolachlor in outflow from the strips were smaller than the inflow concentrations; again, the results were opposite for chlorpyrifos. The 15:1 treatment retained an average of 52.5% of the total input of atrazine, 54.4% of metolachlor, and 83.1% of chlorpyrifos. Corresponding numbers for the 30:1 treatment were 46.8% for atrazine, 48.1% for metolachlor, and 76.9% for chlorpyrifos. Analysis of variance using the randomized block design showed that differences of percent retention of pesticide between treatments were not significant for any of the three pesticides at the 10% significance level. A lack of significant difference indicates either a need for more than three replications and/or larger area ratio treatments to be studied. The results of this study indicate that a 30:1 area ratio buffer strip could perform equally as well as a 15:1 area ratio buffer strip. Thus, less land would be required under buffer strips to get the desired results.


This article is from Transactions of the ASABE, 46, no. 3 (2003): 635–644.

Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2003