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Article

Using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool to Simulate the Pesticide Dynamics in the Data Scarce Guayas River Basin, Ecuador

1
Department of Animal Sciences and Aquatic Ecology, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
2
Centro del Agua y Desarrollo Sustentable, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL), Campus Gustavo Galindo, Guayaquil 09-01-5863, Ecuador
3
Department of Computational Landscape Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), 04318 Leipzig, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(3), 696; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030696
Received: 20 January 2020 / Revised: 18 February 2020 / Accepted: 24 February 2020 / Published: 3 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Water Quality and Contamination)
Agricultural intensification has stimulated the economy in the Guayas River basin in Ecuador, but also affected several ecosystems. The increased use of pesticides poses a serious threat to the freshwater ecosystem, which urgently calls for an improved knowledge about the impact of pesticide practices in this study area. Several studies have shown that models can be appropriate tools to simulate pesticide dynamics in order to obtain this knowledge. This study tested the suitability of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to simulate the dynamics of two different pesticides in the data scarce Guayas River basin. First, we set up, calibrated and validated the model using the streamflow data. Subsequently, we set up the model for the simulation of the selected pesticides (i.e., pendimethalin and fenpropimorph). While the hydrology was represented soundly by the model considering the data scare conditions, the simulation of the pesticides should be taken with care due to uncertainties behind essential drivers, e.g., application rates. Among the insights obtained from the pesticide simulations are the identification of critical zones for prioritisation, the dominant areas of pesticide sources and the impact of the different land uses. SWAT has been evaluated to be a suitable tool to investigate the impact of pesticide use under data scarcity in the Guayas River basin. The strengths of SWAT are its semi-distributed structure, availability of extensive online documentation, internal pesticide databases and user support while the limitations are high data requirements, time-intensive model development and challenging streamflow calibration. The results can also be helpful to design future water quality monitoring strategies. However, for future studies, we highly recommend extended monitoring of pesticide concentrations and sediment loads. Moreover, to substantially improve the model performance, the availability of better input data is needed such as higher resolution soil maps, more accurate pesticide application rate and actual land management programs. Provided that key suggestions for further improvement are considered, the model is valuable for applications in river ecosystem management of the Guayas River basin. View Full-Text
Keywords: pesticide dynamics; Guayas River basin; agricultural intensification; Soil and Water Assessment Tool; data scarcity; freshwater ecosystem management pesticide dynamics; Guayas River basin; agricultural intensification; Soil and Water Assessment Tool; data scarcity; freshwater ecosystem management
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cambien, N.; Gobeyn, S.; Nolivos, I.; Forio, M.A.E.; Arias-Hidalgo, M.; Dominguez-Granda, L.; Witing, F.; Volk, M.; Goethals, P.L.M. Using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool to Simulate the Pesticide Dynamics in the Data Scarce Guayas River Basin, Ecuador. Water 2020, 12, 696. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030696

AMA Style

Cambien N, Gobeyn S, Nolivos I, Forio MAE, Arias-Hidalgo M, Dominguez-Granda L, Witing F, Volk M, Goethals PLM. Using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool to Simulate the Pesticide Dynamics in the Data Scarce Guayas River Basin, Ecuador. Water. 2020; 12(3):696. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030696

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cambien, Naomi, Sacha Gobeyn, Indira Nolivos, Marie A.E. Forio, Mijail Arias-Hidalgo, Luis Dominguez-Granda, Felix Witing, Martin Volk, and Peter L.M. Goethals 2020. "Using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool to Simulate the Pesticide Dynamics in the Data Scarce Guayas River Basin, Ecuador" Water 12, no. 3: 696. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030696

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