The effects of the use of agricultural chemicals and other practices associated with agriculture on the quality of streams and groundwater is well known; however, less is known about how those effects may vary across different geographic regions of the Nation. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are conducting studies on the transport and fate of agricultural chemicals in diverse agricultural settings across the country using comparable and consistent methodology and study designs (fig. 1; Capel and others, 2004; Capel and others, 2008). Assessments in five study areas have been completed, and the results highlight how environmental processes and agricultural practices interact to affect the movement and transformation of agricultural chemicals in the environment. The studies address major environmental compartments, including surface water, groundwater, the unsaturated zone, the streambed, and the atmosphere, as well as the pathways that interconnect these compartments. The study areas represent major agricultural settings, such as irrigated diverse cropping in the West and corn and soybean row cropping in the Midwest and, therefore, findings are relevant throughout much of the Nation.
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USGS Numbered Series
A Whole-System Approach to Understanding Agricultural Chemicals in the Environment