Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #428145

Research Project: Evaluation of Turf Buffers to Reduce Pesticide Runoff: Influence of Turf Type and Buffer Size

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 5062-12130-007-11-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jan 1, 2015
End Date: Dec 31, 2019

The overall goal of the project is to evaluate the effectiveness of traditional and low input turfgrass buffers to reduce the off-site transport of pesticides and a tracer compound with runoff. We will: 1) Measure the quantity of pesticides and a tracer compound in runoff after its transport over a creeping bentgrass (traditional) buffer 2) Measure the quantity of pesticides and a tracer compound in runoff after its transport over a fine fescue mix (low input) turfgrass buffer 3) Repeat objectives 1 and 2 for two additional buffer lengths 4) Calculate removal efficiencies and use the data to validate a computer model.

Experiments will be conducted on the St. Paul Campus. The Center is well equipped with an ample water supply for periodic irrigation and rainfall simulation, and appropriate equipment for turf maintenance and implementation of management practices. The two species of turf will be evaluated, the traditional Creeping Bentgrass turf or low input fine fescue mix. All plots will be maintained at golf course conditions (e.g., irrigation, mowing). Plots are hydrologically isolated and instrumented with runoff collection gutters, trapezoidal flumes and automated samplers with flow meters to collect runoff sub-samples and record runoff volumes and flow rates. Precipitation will be recorded on-site with rain gauges. An automatic weather station will record climatic variables (wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, and solar radiation). Pesticides and a tracer compound will be applied to each plot in the form of runon water, representing runoff entering a buffer from an upslope area. Portable manifolds will be constructed to deliver the runon water at three different setbacks from the runoff collection gutters in order to evaluate the effectiveness of different buffer lengths. A rainfall simulator will provide reproducible precipitation events for all replicates of each experimental variation. Rainfall simulation water, runon water, and runoff water samples will be divided into subsamples then processed and analyzed for pesticides using high performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry and for a conservative tracer using an ion selective electrode. Measured runoff volumes and contaminant concentrations will be used to calculate contaminant loads in runoff exiting the buffers. Comparison of runon and runoff loads will determine each buffer’s contaminant removal efficiency.