U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Soil Management: Building a Stable Base for Agriculture (2011) 183-198. DOI:10.2136/2011.soilmanagement.c12


Pesticides generally include herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides and play an important role in maintaining worldwide food and fiber production by controlling weeds that compete for water and nutrients or by eliminating pests that reduce yields (Majewski and Capel, 1995). In the future, the role of pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture is likely to increase as marginal land is converted to agriculture to meet production needs (Helling, 1993). Furthermore, it has also been proposed that increasing food and fiber production by agriculture will be critical to maintaining political and social stability in many countries (Tilman et al., 2002). However, pesticides can be toxic to humans and other forms of life at low concentrations (Doull, 1989; Jin-Clark et al., 2002; Sparling et al., 2001; USEPA, 2008), so future research will have enhanced scientific, environmental, and regulatory significance (Jury and Flühler, 1992; Posner et al., 1995). To maintain productive and sustainable agricultural systems there is an immediate need to understand field-scale processes governing pesticide use and off -site movement.