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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Off-Site Movement of Soil and Pesticides in Runoff from Vegetable Production: Composing the Environmental Impact of Polyethylene Mulch Versus Vegetative Mulch.

Authors
item Rice, Pamela
item McConnell, Laura
item Heighton Davies, Lynne
item Isensee, Allan
item Sadeghi, Ali
item Abdul-Baki, Aref -
item Hapeman, Cathleen

Submitted to: BARC Poster Day
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 25, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Current vegetable production systems utilize polyethylene mulch and require multiple applications of pesticides and fertilizers. During rain events, runoff from vegetable production is enhanced because 50-75% of the field is covered with an impervious surface. Thus the potential harmful effects on organisms in nearby streams and rivers from off-site losses of agrochemicals is substantially increased. Recently, runoff from vegetable production on the Chesapeake Bay Delmarva peninsula has been implicated in the failure of shellfish farms. Scientists from Beltsville Agricultural Research Center have developed a more sustainable vegetable production system which utilizes vegetative mulch and has been shown to be economically viable. The objective of our reserach was to evaluate and compare the environmental impact of these management practices by quantifying the off-site movement of soil and agrochemicals in runoff from polyethylene and hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) mulch systems. Runoff collected from side-by-side instrumented field plots have shown that losses of 2-10 times more water and twice as much sediment occur from plots with polyethylene beds with bare soil between the beds versus plots covered entirely with hairy vetch residue mulch. Greater quantities of chlorothalonil and endosulfan were lost with runoff from the polyethylene plots. Our quantitative results showing reduced off-site movement of soil and pesticides in the hairy vetch system provide additional reasons for the implementation of this low input management strategy. The reduced soil erosion and off-site movement of pesticides with the hairy vetch system will reduce losses to the vegetable grower and benefit the environment by reducing the load of harmful substances to surrounding sensitive ecosystems

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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