Field runoff is an important transport mechanism by which agricultural pesticides, including atrazine, move into the hydrologic environment. Atrazine is chosen because it is widely used, is transported in runoff relatively easily, is widely observed in surface waters, and has relatively little loss in the stream network. Data on runoff of atrazine from experimental plot and field studies is combined with annual estimates of load in numerous streams and rivers, resulting in a data set with 408 observations that span 14 orders of magnitude in area. The load as a percent of use (LAPU) on an annual basis is the parameter that is compared among the studies. There is no difference in the mean or range of LAPU values for areas from the size of experimental field plots (???0.000023 ha) and small watersheds (<100 000 ha). The relatively invariant LAPU value observed across a large range of watershed areas implies that the characteristics of atrazine itself (application method and chemical properties) are important in determining the extent of runoff. The variable influences on the extent of runoff from individual watershed characteristics and weather events are superimposed on the relatively invariant LAPU value observed across the range of watershed areas. The results from this study establish the direct relevance for agricultural field plot studies to watershed studies across the full range of scale.
Additional publication details
Effect of scale on the behavior of atrazine in surface waters