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Effect of sugarcane cropping systems on herbicide losses in surface runoff

Nachimuthu, G. and Halpin, N. V. and Bell, M. J. (2016) Effect of sugarcane cropping systems on herbicide losses in surface runoff. Science of the total environment, 557-55 . pp. 773-784. ISSN 0048-9697

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Article Link(s): http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.03.105

Abstract

Herbicide runoff from cropping fields has been identified as a threat to the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. A field investigation was carried out to monitor the changes in runoff water quality resulting from four different sugarcane cropping systems that included different herbicides and contrasting tillage and trash management practices. These include (i) Conventional - Tillage (beds and inter-rows) with residual herbicides used; (ii) Improved - only the beds were tilled (zonal) with reduced residual herbicides used; (iii) Aspirational - minimum tillage (one pass of a single tine ripper before planting) with trash mulch, no residual herbicides and a legume intercrop after cane establishment; and (iv) New Farming System (NFS) - minimum tillage as in Aspirational practice with a grain legume rotation and a combination of residual and knockdown herbicides. Results suggest soil and trash management had a larger effect on the herbicide losses in runoff than the physico-chemical properties of herbicides. Improved practices with 30% lower atrazine application rates than used in conventional systems produced reduced runoff volumes by 40% and atrazine loss by 62%. There were a 2-fold variation in atrazine and >10-fold variation in metribuzin loads in runoff water between reduced tillage systems differing in soil disturbance and surface residue cover from the previous rotation crops, despite the same herbicide application rates. The elevated risk of offsite losses from herbicides was illustrated by the high concentrations of diuron (14mugL-1) recorded in runoff that occurred >2.5months after herbicide application in a 1st ratoon crop. A cropping system employing less persistent non-selective herbicides and an inter-row soybean mulch resulted in no residual herbicide contamination in runoff water, but recorded 12.3% lower yield compared to Conventional practice. These findings reveal a trade-off between achieving good water quality with minimal herbicide contamination and maintaining farm profitability with good weed control.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Crop and Food Science
Keywords:Atrazine Diuron Metolachlor Metribuzin Paddock to reef Pendimethalin
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural chemistry. Agricultural chemicals
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Deposited On:12 Aug 2016 03:48
Last Modified:12 Aug 2016 03:48

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