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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Animal Science

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Many pesticides are listed as possible or probable human carcinogens, leading to a public concern over their environmental impact. Vegetative filter strips (VFS) have been developed to intercept runoff water and prevent pesticides from contaminating surface and ground water.

The first half of this project identified five plants (big blue stem, blue flag iris, eastern gama grass, prairie cord grass and wool grass) that best removed pesticides from contaminated soil. The current study evaluated four treatment groups: the five selected plant species arranged (1) randomly, (2) in a succession from short (upslope) to tall (downslope), (3) turfgrass cut to three heights from short (upslope) to tall (downslope) and (4) unvegetated (UVFS), in an effort to optimize vegetative filter strips to reduce the movement of pesticides contained in runoff from turfgrass environments.

Simulated rainfall was applied to 12 VFS (0.91 m x 4.6 m x 1.83 m), each with a 5% slope. The VFS were used to evaluate the effect of three vegetated treatments on the effectiveness of VFS for mitigation of pesticide-contaminated runoff from treated turf. For the runon simulation, five pesticides (chlorothalonil, chlorpyrifos, imidacloprid, pendimethalin, and propiconazole) were added at 5% their maximum application rate for turfgrass to a nurse tank containing the amount of runoff expected to occur from an uphill turf plot (5.5 m2) during either a 1- (6.1 cm) or 5-yr (9.65 cm) rain event. Runoff samples were collected at the downhill base (bottom) of each VFS and analyzed for pesticides to determine the effectiveness of VFS at mitigating runoff water and the pesticides contained. Soil core and soil pore water samples were taken periodically post-application. All samples were analyzed for applied pesticides and quantified by GC/MS and LC/MS/MS.

All vegetated treatments were more effective in decreasing the runoff volume and the associated pesticide concentration when compared with UVFS, with turfgrass being the most effective of the three treatments.

This research validates the use of VFS in slowing the flow of runon water significantly enough for it to infiltrate into the soil, instead of leaving the VFS as runoff. VFS are already suggested as a best management practice to prevent pesticides from leaving many agricultural sites treated with pesticides, but this research suggests their widespread use on golf courses, parks, athletic fields and home lawns could greatly reduce the amount of pesticides in runoff waters from turf environments and help keep our waterways clean.


First Advisor

John Clark

Second Advisor

Jeff Doherty

Third Advisor

Scott Ebdon