Fluxes of agricultural nitrogen and metolachlor metabolites are highly correlated in a first order stream in Maryland, USA

Science of the Total Environment
By: , and 

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Abstract

Nitrogen pollution in watersheds containing significant cropland area is generally problematic. Conservation practices intended to reduce nitrate-N (NO3--N) export from watersheds are being implemented by many regions without necessary tools to assess effectiveness of these abatement tools. A commonly used herbicide metolachlor degrades in the vadose zone of croplands to form two metabolites (metolachlor ethane sulfonic acid (MESA) and metolachlor oxanilic acid (MOXA)) which are both highly soluble in soils. Study of metabolite fates in a first order watershed provided evidence that transport of these metabolites to stream water is highly correlated to transport of the agricultural NO3--N that also forms in the cropland vadose zone. Linear models describing the relationships of stream flux of MESA and MOXA to NO3--N flux generated goodness of fit values of 0.93 and 0.82 respectively. These findings support a conclusion that both MESA and MOXA act as excellent transport analogs of NO3- and become strongly correlated to agricultural NO3--N leaching from the cropland vadose zone. Moreover, their use as conservative tracers in agricultural watersheds can provide valuable information concerning movement and fate of agricultural nitrogen at watershed scales of observation.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Fluxes of agricultural nitrogen and metolachlor metabolites are highly correlated in a first order stream in Maryland, USA
Series title Science of the Total Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.136590
Volume 716
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
Description 136590, 7 p.
Country United States
State Maryland
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