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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #302784

Title: Vegetative buffer strips for reducing herbicide transport in runoff: effects of season, vegetation, and buffer width

item Lerch, Robert
item LIN, CHUNG - University Of Missouri
item GOYNE, KEITH - University Of Missouri
item Kremer, Robert
item ANDERSON, STEPHEN - University Of Missouri

Submitted to: International Soil and Water Conservation Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/16/2014
Publication Date: 8/12/2014
Citation: Lerch, R.N., Lin, C.H., Goyne, K.G., Kremer, R.J., Anderson, S.H. 2014. Vegetative buffer strips for reducing herbicide transport in runoff: effects of season, vegetation, and buffer width. International Soil and Water Conservation Conference. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The effectiveness of vegetative buffer strips (VBS) for reducing herbicide transport in runoff may be affected by season, plant species composition, and buffer width. A plot-scale study was conducted from 2007-2012 on an eroded claypan soil with the objectives of: 1) assessing the effects of season (spring, summer, fall), vegetation (fallow control, tall fescue, tall fescue plus switchgrass hedge, and native grasses), and buffer width (-1, 1, 4, and 8 m) on runoff transport of herbicides; 2) developing design criteria for buffer widths; and 3) assessing soil quality in the buffers since their implementation in 2002. Rainfall simulation was used to create uniform antecedent soil moisture content in the plots and to generate runoff. Runoff discharge and composite runoff samples and were collected at each buffer width for determination of atrazine, metolachlor, and glyphosate concentrations. Soil samples were collected in 2011 to assess soil quality changes, including biological and physical soil properties. Preliminary results showed that 8 m of the three VBS treatments reduced the loads of dissolved and sediment-bound atrazine, metolachlor, and glyphosate in runoff by 76 to 85% of the input load. Contaminant mitigation as a function of buffer width followed 1st-order decay models, which can be used to predict expected field-scale results and provide design criteria for buffer widths. The soil quality assessments showed few statistical differences in enzyme activities and saturated hydraulic conductivity. Atrazine degradation was rapid in all treatments, with half-lives ranging from 4.4 to 9.0 d, but the control had a significantly greater atrazine degradation rate than the vegetation treatments. Thus, perennial grass vegetation has had a minimal effect on soil quality nine years after establishment. This study demonstrated that VBS may achieve major reductions in herbicide transport and provided design criteria data for more effective implementation of VBS.