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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