Pesticide Leaching from Agricultural Fields with Ridges and Furrows

M. Leistra, J.J.T.I. Boesten

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20 Citations (Scopus)


In the evaluation of the risk of pesticide leaching to groundwater, the soil surface is usually assumed to be level, although important crops like potato are grown on ridges. A fraction of the water from rainfall and sprinkler irrigation may flow along the soil surface from the ridges to the furrows, thus bringing about an extra load of water and pesticide on the furrow soil. A survey of the literature reveals that surface-runoff from ridges to furrows is a well-known phenomenon but that hardly any data are available on the quantities of water and pesticide involved. On the basis of a field experiment with additional sprinkler irrigation, computer simulations were carried out with the Pesticide Emission Assessment at Regional and Local scales model for separate ridge and furrow systems in a humic sandy potato field. Breakthrough curves of bromide ion (as a tracer for water flow) and carbofuran (as example pesticide) were calculated for 1-m depth in the field. Bromide ion leached comparatively fast from the furrow system, while leaching from the ridge system was slower showing a maximum concentration of about half of that for the furrow system. Carbofuran breakthrough from the furrow system began about a month after application and increased steadily to substantial concentrations. Because the transport time of carbofuran in the ridge soil was much longer, no breakthrough occurred in the growing season. The maximum concentration of carbofuran leaching from the ridge–furrow field was computed to be a factor of six times as high as that computed for the corresponding level field. The study shows that the risk of leaching of pesticides via the furrow soil can be substantially higher than that via the corresponding level field soil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-352
JournalWater Air and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • irrigated potato
  • sandy soil
  • water
  • transport
  • stemflow
  • flow


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