A geographic information system (GIS) was used to estimate agricultural pesticide use in the drainage basins of streams that are studied as part of the U.S. Geological Survey?s National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. Drainage basin pesticide use estimates were computed by intersecting digital maps of drainage basin boundaries with an enhanced version of the National Land Cover Data 1992 combined with estimates of 1992 agricultural pesticide use in each United States county. This report presents the methods used to quantify agricultural pesticide use in drainage basins using a GIS and includes the estimates of atrazine use applied to row crops, small-grain crops, and fallow lands in 150 watersheds in the conterminous United States. Basin atrazine use estimates are presented to compare and analyze the results that were derived from 30-meter and 1-kilometer resolution land cover and county pesticide use data, and drainage basin boundaries at various grid cell resolutions. Comparisons of the basin atrazine use estimates derived from watershed boundaries, county pesticide use, and land cover data sets at different resolutions, indicated that overall differences were minor. The largest potential for differences in basin pesticide use estimates between those derived from the 30-meter and 1-kilometer resolution enhanced National Land Cover Data 1992 exists wherever there are abrupt agricultural land cover changes along the basin divide. Despite the limitations of the drainage basin pesticide use data described in this report, the basin estimates provide consistent and comparable indicators of agricultural pesticide application in surface-water drainage basins studied in the NAWQA Program.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Estimation of agricultural pesticide use in drainage basins using land cover maps and county pesticide data