Wet atmospheric deposition of pesticides in Minnesota, 1989-94

Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4026
Prepared in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture
By: , and 



All of the rain samples during the growing season had detectable quantities of at least one pesticide, but most of the pesticides were only infrequently observed. The most frequently detected compounds were the herbicides alachlor, atrazine, cyanazine, and metolachlor, and in 1994, its first year of registration, acetochlor. Peak concentrations of most herbicides in rainfall occurred shortly after their application periods in the spring. Peak concentrations of most of the insecticides occurred later in the summer.

The majority of the wet depositional flux of pesticides occurred between early May and October. The annual wet depositional flux of pesticides is 5 orders of magnitude less than is the "annual flux" normally applied on an agricultural field, although some of the pesticides in rain are deposited in areas far removed from agricultural fields. The annual variability in pesticide deposition can be explained by year-to-year differences in climate and pesticide use patterns. The one sampling site (Lamberton) that was in an area dominated by row crop agriculture showed a significantly greater annual flux than the other four sampling sites that were in areas of either urbanization or less intensive agricultural. Regional deposition, away from a local source, can be inferred from these four sites because they have annual pesticide fluxes that are very similar for any given year. The observation of agricultural pesticides (not registered for home and garden use) in rain and storm runoff in the urban area indicates their transport from areas of agricultural use. Urban areas may be the best locations for assessing changes in regional use and deposition of agricultural pesticides.

The pesticide fluxes in the streams out of the small three watersheds was compared to the pesticide flux into the watersheds in rain. The data indicate that flux into the watersheds from the rain is generally much greater than the flux from the watersheds in the streams. Therefore, a large fraction of the pesticides deposited in rain is retained within the watersheds. For the urban area, this is on the order of 98 percent for the four most commonly observed herbicides in rain and runoff.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Wet atmospheric deposition of pesticides in Minnesota, 1989-94
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 97-4026
DOI 10.3133/wri974026
Year Published 1998
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Mounds View, MN
Contributing office(s) Minnesota Water Science Center
Description v, 43 p.
Country United States
State Minnesota
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details