Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Improvement In Controlling Agricultural Runoff Still Needed To Prevent Ecological Disasters

Date:
August 25, 2000
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
Growing tomatoes under plastic presents good news and bad news as far as the impact on water quality and aquatic life are concerned.

Blacksburg, Va., August 24, 2000) -- Growing tomatoes under plastic presents good news and bad news as far as the impact on water quality and aquatic life are concerned.

Andrea Dietrich and Daniel Gallagher, professors of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, presented their findings regarding "Agricultural copper: Transport and toxicity in runoff from tomato fields to estuaries" at the 220th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C. yesterday (Wednesday, Aug. 23).

Growing tomatoes using plastic mulch, raised beds, and drip irrigation controls soil moisture and prevents weeds, which reduces the need for herbicides and allows prescriptive use of fertilizers, thus reducing contamination by these chemicals. However, farmers must still use biocides to control fungi, bacteria, and insects, and there is still runoff -- increased runoff, in fact, due to the impermeable plastic and compacted soil between the rows. The plasticulture runoff entering nearby waterways is the copper-based bactericide and fungicide used on the plants to prevent disease.

Dietrich and her colleagues and students in agriculture, biology, and engineering have been studying copper runoff and its impacts and in waters off Eastern Virginia since the mid 1990s, with funding by various state and federal agencies. They have found that concentrations of copper in creeks exceeded the reported mortality level for clams, shrimp, and many fish species.

Farmers have considered several strategies to reduce the runoff, such as sediment ponds and grass strips, and Dietrich and Gallagher have been studying the effectiveness of such measures. In a recent project supported by Virginia Sea Grant (NOAA) and the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (VDACS), the researchers created simulated estuaries (complete with tidal cycles), tomato fields, and a rain simulator in a green house on campus. The research estuaries sustain fish and shrimp, and marsh plant populations so that the impact of agricultural runoff and strategies and treatments can be evaluated. Measurements from both nonplasticulture fields and plastic-covered fields were also part of the study.

The research confirmed that a sedimentation basin does reduce copper concentrations (by up to 90 percent). Sadly, however, it does not reduce the copper concentration sufficiently to eliminate the mortality of fish and grass shrimp. The enclosed greenhouse-scale research environment enabled careful chemical analysis of the copper and the researchers learned that "a significant percent is in a form that is bioavailable to the organisms," according to the final report sent to VDACS in June. "Although sedimentation has the potential to lower the total concentration of copper, it does not effect the fraction of bioavailable copper."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Improvement In Controlling Agricultural Runoff Still Needed To Prevent Ecological Disasters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000825082022.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2000, August 25). Improvement In Controlling Agricultural Runoff Still Needed To Prevent Ecological Disasters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000825082022.htm
Virginia Tech. "Improvement In Controlling Agricultural Runoff Still Needed To Prevent Ecological Disasters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000825082022.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins