Estimating Watershed Level Nonagricultural Pesticide Use From Golf Courses Using Geospatial Methods1

Authors

  • Garey A. Fox,

    1. Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, 120 Agricultural Hall, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078
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  • Gail P. Thelin,

    1. Geographer, U.S. Geological Survey, Placer Hall, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, California 95819-6129
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  • George J. Sabbagh,

    1. Principal Scientist, Bayer CropScience and Adjunct Professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University, 17745 South Metcalf, Stilwell, Kansas 66085
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  • John W. Fuchs,

    1. Graduate Student, Oklahoma State University, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, 120 Agricultural Hall, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078
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  • Iain D. Kelly

    1. Product Safety Manager, Bayer CropScience, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709.
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  • 1

    Paper No. JAWRA-07-0156-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until February 1, 2009.

(E-mail/Fox: garey.fox@okstate.edu)

Abstract

Abstract:  Limited information exists on pesticide use for nonagricultural purposes, making it difficult to estimate pesticide loadings from nonagricultural sources to surface water and to conduct environmental risk assessments. A method was developed to estimate the amount of pesticide use on recreational turf grasses, specifically golf course turf grasses, for watersheds located throughout the conterminous United States (U.S.). The approach estimates pesticide use: (1) based on the area of recreational turf grasses (used as a surrogate for turf associated with golf courses) within the watershed, which was derived from maps of land cover, and (2) from data on the location and average treatable area of golf courses. The area of golf course turf grasses determined from these two methods was used to calculate the percentage of each watershed planted in golf course turf grass (percent crop area, or PCA). Turf-grass PCAs derived from the two methods were used with recommended application rates provided on pesticide labels to estimate total pesticide use on recreational turf within 1,606 watersheds associated with surface-water sources of drinking water. These pesticide use estimates made from label rates and PCAs were compared to use estimates from industry sales data on the amount of each pesticide sold for use within the watershed. The PCAs derived from the land-cover data had an average value of 0.4% of a watershed with minimum of 0.01% and a maximum of 9.8%, whereas the PCA values that are based on the number of golf courses in a watershed had an average of 0.3% of a watershed with a minimum of <0.01% and a maximum of 14.2%. Both the land-cover method and the number of golf courses method produced similar PCA distributions, suggesting that either technique may be used to provide a PCA estimate for recreational turf. The average and maximum PCAs generally correlated to watershed size, with the highest PCAs estimated for small watersheds. Using watershed specific PCAs, combined with label rates, resulted in greater than two orders of magnitude over-estimation of the pesticide use compared to estimates from sales data.

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