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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Spatial and temporal patterns of pesticide concentrations in streamflow, drainage and runoff in a small Swedish agricultural catchment

Sandin, Maria; Piikki, Kristin; Jarvis, Nicholas; Larsbo, Mats; Bishop, Kevin; Kreuger, Jenny


A better understanding of the dominant source areas and transport pathways of pesticide losses to surface water is needed for targeting mitigation efforts in a more cost-effective way. To this end, we monitored pesticides in surface water in an agricultural catchment typical of one of the main crop production regions in Sweden. Three small sub-catchments (88-242 ha) were selected for water sampling based on a high-resolution digital soil map developed from proximal sensing methods and soil sampling; one sub-catchment had a high proportion of clay soils, another was dominated by coarse sandy soils while the third comprised a mix of soil types. Samples were collected from the stream, from field drains discharging into the stream and from within-field surface runoff during spring and early summer in three consecutive years. These samples were analyzed by LC-MS/MS for 99 compounds, including most of the polar and semi-polar pesticides frequently used in Swedish agriculture. Information on pesticide applications (products, doses and timing) was obtained from annual interviews with the farmers. There were clear and consistent differences in pesticide occurrence in the stream between the three sub-catchments, with both the numbers of detected compounds and concentrations being the largest in the area with a high proportion of clay soils and with very few detections in the sandy sub-catchment. Macropore flow to drains was most likely the dominant loss pathway in the studied area. Many of the compounds that were detected in drainage and stream water samples had not been applied for several years. This suggests that despite the predominant role of fast flow pathways in determining losses to the stream, long-term storage along the transport pathways also occurs, presumably in subsoil horizons where degradation is slow. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Published in

Science of the Total Environment
2018, Volume: 610-611, pages: 623-634