Quantifying water quality improvements through use of precision herbicide application technologies in a dry-tropical, furrow-irrigated cropping system

Davis, Aaron M., and Neelamraju, Catherine (2019) Quantifying water quality improvements through use of precision herbicide application technologies in a dry-tropical, furrow-irrigated cropping system. Water, 11 (11). 2326.

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This study compared water quality effects of using precision herbicide application technologies and traditional spraying approaches across several regulated 'priority' and alternative preand post-emergent herbicides in a northern Australian cane farming system. Use of herbicide banding spray technologies resulted in pre-emergent herbicide load reductions, extending substantially beyond simple proportionate decreases in the amount of herbicide ingredient applied to paddocks. Aquatic risk assessment from resultant chemical mixtures leaving paddocks, and upscaled to local catchment concentrations, highlighted that precision application technologies could markedly reduce the ecological risk of pre-emergent herbicides. These risk reductions were, however, often complicated by the additional toxicity of post-emergent herbicides in mixtures, some associated with the adoption of band-spraying weed treatments. While the currently regulated priority herbicide, diuron, posed the greatest risk to the environment, alternative herbicides could still pose significant environmental risks, although these relative risks were lower at more ecologically relevant concentrations, typically found in the local freshwater ecosystems. Results underline the need for a carefully considered approach to integrating alternative herbicides and precision application technologies into improved weed management by irrigating cane farmers. Recent government changes to the appraisal of water quality improvement progress, from load-based to ecosystem-based targets, involving a much broader suite of herbicides, also appear likely to complicate assessment of the environmental impacts of practice change adoption for the industry.

Item ID: 61680
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2073-4441
Keywords: Ecotoxicity, Great Barrier Reef, Herbicides, Precision agriculture
Copyright Information: © 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Funders: Queensland Government Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Australian Government (AG)
Projects and Grants: AG Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2020 02:08
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments @ 100%
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