Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey on sources, transport, and fate of agricultural chemicals

Fact Sheet 2004-3098

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The U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program is assessing the sources, transport, and fate of chemicals applied to crops in agricultural basins across the Nation (referred to as "study units," see map). Chemicals selected for study include nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and about 50 commonly used pesticides and their transformation products, including triazine and acetanilide herbicides such as atrazine and metolachlor, and organophosphorus insecticides such as chlorpyrifos and diazinon.

The basins in the studies represent a range of agricultural settings—with varying crop types and agricultural practices related to tillage, irrigation, artificial drainage, and chemical use—as well as a range of landscapes with different geology, soils, topography, climate, and hydrology. Consistent methodology and analysis allow comparisons among the different basins. This study design leads to an improved understanding of the many factors that can affect the movement of water and chemicals in different agricultural settings (see "Complex factors," next page).

Information from these studies will help with decision-making related to chemical use, conservation, and other farming practices that are used to reduce runoff of agricultural chemicals and sediment from fields. This information also will benefit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, local and regional water managers, and agricultural chemical manufacturers who are involved in managing chemical use and pesticide registration.

Additional publication details

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USGS Numbered Series
Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey on sources, transport, and fate of agricultural chemicals
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
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U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Minnesota Water Science Center
4 p.
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