Chlorpyrifos and atrazine removal from runoff by vegetated filter strips: Experiments and predictive modeling
Received for publication September 10, 2008. Runoff volume and flow concentration are hydrological factors that limit effectiveness of vegetated filter strips (VFS) in removing pesticides from surface runoff. Empirical equations that predict VFS pesticide effectiveness based solely on physical characteristics are insufficient on the event scale because they do not completely account for hydrological processes. This research investigated the effect of drainage area ratio (i.e., the ratio of field area to VFS area) and flow concentration (i.e., uniform versus concentrated flow) on pesticide removal efficiency of a VFS and used these data to provide further field verification of a recently proposed numerical/empirical modeling procedure for predicting removal efficiency under variable flow conditions. Runoff volumes were used to simulate drainage area ratios of 15:1 and 30:1. Flow concentration was investigated based on size of the VFS by applying artificial runoff to 10% of the plot width (i.e., concentrated flow) or the full plot width (i.e., uniform flow). Artificial runoff was metered into 4.6-m long VFS plots for 90 min after a simulated rainfall of 63 mm applied over 2 h. The artificial runoff contained sediment and was dosed with chlorpyrifos and atrazine. Pesticide removal efficiency of VFS for uniform flow conditions (59% infiltration; 88% sediment removal) was 85% for chlorpyrifos and 62% for atrazine. Flow concentration reduced removal efficiencies regardless of drainage area ratio (i.e., 16% infiltration, 31% sediment removal, 21% chlorpyrifos removal, and 12% atrazine removal). Without calibration, the predictive modeling based on the integrated VFSMOD and empirical hydrologic-based pesticide trapping efficiency equation predicted atrazine and chlorpyrifos removal efficiency under uniform and concentrated flow conditions. Consideration for hydrological processes, as opposed to statistical relationships based on buffer physical characteristics, is required to adequately predict VFS pesticide trapping efficiency.