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Reducing the risk of herbicide runoff in sugarcane farming through controlled traffic and early-banded application

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Masters, B., Rohde, K., Gurner, N. and Reid, D. J. (2013) Reducing the risk of herbicide runoff in sugarcane farming through controlled traffic and early-banded application. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 180 . pp. 29-39. ISSN 0167-8809

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2012.02.001


The off-site transport of agricultural chemicals, such as herbicides, into freshwater and marine ecosystems is a world-wide concern. The adoption of farm management practices that minimise herbicide transport in rainfall-runoff is a priority for the Australian sugarcane industry, particularly in the coastal catchments draining into the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lagoon. In this study, residual herbicide runoff and infiltration were measured using a rainfall simulator in a replicated trial on a brown Chromosol with 90–100% cane trash blanket cover in the Mackay Whitsunday region, Queensland. Management treatments included conventional 1.5 m spaced sugarcane beds with a single row of sugarcane (CONV) and 2 m spaced, controlled traffic sugarcane beds with dual sugarcane rows (0.8 m apart) (2mCT). The aim was to simulate the first rainfall event after the application of the photosynthesis inhibiting (PSII) herbicides ametryn, atrazine, diuron and hexazinone, by broadcast (100% coverage, on bed and furrow) and banding (50–60% coverage, on bed only) methods. These events included heavy rainfall 1 day after herbicide application, considered a worst case scenario, or rainfall 21 days after application. The 2mCT rows had significantly (P < 0.05) less runoff (38%) and lower peak runoff rates (43%) than CONV rows for a rainfall average of 93 mm at 100 mm h−1 (1:20 yr Average Return Interval). Additionally, final infiltration rates were higher in 2mCT rows than CONV rows, with 72 and 52 mm h−1 respectively. This resulted in load reductions of 60, 55, 47, and 48% for ametryn, atrazine, diuron and hexazinone from 2mCT rows, respectively. Herbicide losses in runoff were also reduced by 32–42% when applications were banded rather than broadcast. When rainfall was experienced 1 day after application, a large percentage of herbicides were washed off the cane trash. However, by day 21, concentrations of herbicide residues on cane trash were lower and more resistant to washoff, resulting in lower losses in runoff. Consequently, ametryn and atrazine event mean concentrations in runoff were approximately 8 fold lower at day 21 compared with day 1, whilst diuron and hexazinone were only 1.6–1.9 fold lower, suggesting longer persistence of these chemicals. Runoff collected at the end of the paddock in natural rainfall events indicated consistent though smaller treatment differences to the rainfall simulation study. Overall, it was the combination of early application, banding and controlled traffic that was most effective in reducing herbicide losses in runoff. Crown copyright © 2012

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Animal Science
Additional Information:S
Keywords:Great Barrier Reef; sugarcane; controlled traffic; runoff; water quality; farm management practices; agricultural chemicals; herbicides; Diuron; Hexazinone; Atrazine; Ametryn; freshwater and marine ecosystems.
Subjects:Plant culture > Field crops > Sugar plants
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Plant pests and diseases > Pest control and treatment of diseases. Plant protection > Pesticides
Live Archive:18 Mar 2014 04:41
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:44

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