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Open AccessArticle

Assessment of the Environmental Risk of Pesticides Leaching at the Watershed Scale under Arid Climatic Conditions and Low Recharge Rates

1
Department of Soil Science, College of Food and Agricultural Sciences, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2460, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia
2
Department of Soils and Water, Faculty of Agriculture, Suez Canal University, Ismailia 41522, Egypt
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(2), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020418
Received: 5 January 2020 / Revised: 28 January 2020 / Accepted: 2 February 2020 / Published: 5 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology and Hydrogeology)
The assessment of the vulnerability of soil and groundwater resources to pesticide contamination is important to reduce the risk of environmental pollution. The applicability of the expanded attenuation factor (EAF) to assess leaching potential of 30 pesticides was investigated under four recharge rates (0.0003–0.002 m d−1) in the arid environment of the Jazan watershed. EAF results revealed that Picloram, Carbofuran, Monocrotophos, and 2,4-D pesticides showed high leaching potential, mainly because of their low K O C , and relatively longer t 1 / 2 . In addition, medium leaching potential was observed with six more pesticides (Atrazine, Aldicarb, Simazine, Methomyl, Oxamyl, and Lindane). Regardless of the recharge rate, all other pesticides showed a very low leaching potential in the Jazan watershed. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the output of the EAF index is most sensitive to the fraction of organic carbon ( f o c ) , water content at field capacity ( θ F C   ) , recharge rate ( q ) , and partition coefficient ( K O C ) , and least sensitive to soil bulk density ( ρ b ) and air-filled porosity ( n a ). The areal extent of areas with larger leaching potential in the Jazan watershed was consistent with soils having f o c < 0.3, θ F C   > 10 m3 m−3, and ρ b < 1450 kg m−3, and were mostly associated with the loamy sand soils, followed by the sand and silt loam soils. EAF index model performed well in assessing relative rankings of leaching potential and delineating areas that are more susceptible to pesticide leaching. At the lowest recharge rate, general risk maps showed that the risk of leaching potential was very low for all pesticides in the entire area of the Jazan watershed. On the other hand, under the worst case scenario (0.002 m d−1), only Picloram and Carbofuran showed very high leaching potential in areas that represented 10.8 and 8.2% from the total area of the Jazan watershed, respectively. The information gained from this research can help farmers and decision-makers to implement regulations and best management practices to reduce the risk of environmental pollution, and protect soil and groundwater resources in Jazan watershed. View Full-Text
Keywords: expanded attenuation factor (EAF); leaching potential; pesticides; soil properties; recharge rate; watershed expanded attenuation factor (EAF); leaching potential; pesticides; soil properties; recharge rate; watershed
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Ibrahim, H.M.; Al-Turki, A.M. Assessment of the Environmental Risk of Pesticides Leaching at the Watershed Scale under Arid Climatic Conditions and Low Recharge Rates. Water 2020, 12, 418.

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