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The pesticide module of the Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM): testing and sensitivity analysis of selected algorithms for pesticide fate and surface runoff

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Abstract:

The Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM) is a one‐dimensional, numerical model for simulating water movement and chemical transport under a variety of management and weather scenarios at the field scale. The pesticide module of RZWQM includes detailed algorithms that describe the complex interactions between pesticides and the environment. We have simulated a range of situations with RZWQM, including foliar interception and washoff of a multiply applied insecticide (chlorpyrifos) to growing corn, and herbicides (alachlor, atrazine, flumetsulam) with pH‐dependent soil sorption, to examine whether the model appears to generate reasonable results. The model was also tested using chlorpyrifos and flumetsulam for the sensitivity of its predictions of chemical fate and water and pesticide runoff to various input parameters. The model appears to generate reasonable representations of the fate and partitioning of surface‐ and foliar‐applied chemicals, and the sorption of weakly acidic or basic pesticides, processes that are becoming increasingly important for describing adequately the environmental behavior of newer pesticides. However, the kinetic sorption algorithms for charged pesticides appear to be faulty. Of the 29 parameters and variables analyzed, chlorpyrifos half‐life, the Freundlich adsorption exponent, the fraction of kinetic sorption sites, air temperature, soil bulk density, soil‐water content at 33 kPa suction head and rainfall were most sensitive for predictions of chlorpyrifos residues in soil. The latter three inputs and the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the soil and surface crusts were most sensitive for predictions of surface water runoff and water‐phase loss of chlorpyrifos. In addition, predictions of flumetsulam (a weak acid) runoff and dynamics in soil were sensitive to the Freundlich equilibrium adsorption constant, soil pH and its dissociation coefficient. Published in 2004 for SCI by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: RZWQM; alachlor; atrazine; chlorpyrifos; flumetsulam; pesticide dissipation; pesticide runoff; sensitivity analysis

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ps.790

Affiliations: 1: Environmental and Turf Services, Inc, Wheaton, MD, USA 2: US Department of Agriculture, Tifton, GA, USA 3: US Department of Agriculture, Fort Collins, CO, USA 4: US Department of Agriculture, Ames, IA, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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