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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 5, p. 1720-1732
    Received: May 26, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): ettore.capri@unicatt.it
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Modeling the Effects of Tillage Management Practices on Herbicide Runoff in Northern Italy

  1. Zewei Miaoa,
  2. Alberto Vicarib,
  3. Ettore Capri *a,
  4. Francesca Venturab,
  5. Laura Padovania and
  6. Marco Trevisana
  1. a Istituto di Chimica Agraria ed Ambientale, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, 29100 Piacenza, Italy
    b Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Agroambientali, Università di Bologna, 40126 Bologna, Italy


The need to quantitatively predict pesticide runoff and erosion under cropping system management has gained increasing importance. In Europe, predictive models have not yet been fully validated because of the lack of field data sets. The objective of this study was to validate the capability of PRZM (Pesticide Root Zone Model) 3.12 to predict water runoff, sediment erosion, and associated transport of atrazine (6-chloro-N 2–ethyl-N 4–isopropyl-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine), terbuthylazine (N 2–tert-butyl-6-chloro-N 4–ethyl-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine), and metolachlor [2-chloro-6′-ethyl-N-(2-methoxy-l-methylethyl)acet-o-toluidide] under common tillage management practices found in northern Italy. A 2-yr field data set was used to evaluate the model. Results showed that the model could qualitatively simulate significant differences of water runoff, soil erosion, and associated herbicide losses between conventional tillage (CT) and minimum tillage (MT) for a winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) cover crop. For MT, water runoff, soil erosion, herbicide losses in water runoff and eroded sediment, and the proportion of herbicide loss via sediment erosion were significantly lower than for CT. The model failed to correctly simulate event-based herbicide concentration, water runoff, and soil erosion. The model usually underestimated pesticide runoff events with high rainfall intensity and low daily precipitation volume, and overestimated runoff events with low intensity and high volume. The main reason was that the description of runoff and erosion processes is rather empirical in the model and not physically based. Moreover, model calculations do not adequately reflect the relationships between soil erosion intensity and chemical concentration in sediment losses, leading to discrepancies between predictions and field observations.

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Copyright © 2004. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyASA, CSSA, SSSA