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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Reducing Atrazine Losses


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 1, p. 7-12
    Received: Aug 28, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): harman@brc.tamus.edu
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  1. Wyatte L. Harman *a,
  2. E. Wangb and
  3. J. R. Williamsa
  1. a Blackland Research and Extension Center, 720 East Blackland Road, Temple, TX 76502
    b Department of Agribusiness, Tarleton State University, Box T-0050, Stephenville, TX 76402


Water quality is being affected by herbicides, some allegedly harmful to human health. Under scrutiny is atrazine (1-chloro-3-ethylamino-5-isopropylamino-2,4,6-triazine), a commonly used herbicide in corn (Zea mays L.) and sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] production. Concentrations of soluble and adsorbed atrazine losses sometimes exceed the safe drinking water standard of 3 μg L−1 established by the USEPA. This study assesses the protective implications of runoff control structures and alternative crop farming practices to minimize atrazine losses. Using a computerized simulation model, APEX, the following four practices were the most effective with respect to the average atrazine loss as a percent of the amount applied: (i) constructing sediment ponds, 0.09%; (ii) establishing grass filter strips, 0.14%; (iii) banding a 25% rate of atrazine, 0.40%; and (iv) constructing wetlands, 0.45%. Other atrazine runoff management options, including adoption of alternative tillage practices such as conservation and no-till as well as splitting applications between fall and spring, were marginally effective.

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