In assessing the occurrence, behavior, and effects of agricultural chemicals in surface water, the scales of study (i.e., watershed, county, state, and regional areas) are usually much larger than the scale of agricultural fields, where much of the understanding of processes has been developed. Field-scale areas are characterized by relatively homogeneous conditions. The combination of process-based simulation models and geographic information system technology can be used to help extend our understanding of field processes to water-quality concerns at larger scales. To demonstrate this, the model "Groundwater Loading Effects of Agricultural Management Systems" was used to estimate the potential loss of two pesticides (atrazine and permethrin) in runoff to surface water in Fillmore County in southeastern Minnesota. The county was divided into field-scale areas on the basis of a 100 m by 100 m grid, and the influences of soil type and surface topography on the potential losses of the two pesticides in runoff was evaluated for each individual grid cell. The results could be used for guidance for agricultural management and regulatory decisions, for planning environmental monitoring programs, and as an educational tool for the public.
Additional publication details
Estimation of potential loss of two pesticides in runoff in Fillmore County, Minnesota using a field-scale process-based model and a geographic information system