Nutrients and Pesticides in Stormwater runoff and soil water in production nurseries and citrus and avocado groves in California

Salvatore S. Mangiafico, Julie Newman, Donald J. Merhaut, Jay Gan, Ben Faber, Laosheng Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


SUMMARY. Potential water quality impacts of agricultural production include runoff and leaching losses of nutrients, pesticides, and sediment. Stormwater runoff and soil water samples were collected from citrus (Citrus spp.), avocado (Persea americana), and ornamental nursery sites in Ventura County, CA, across 19 months. Nitrate-nitrite-nitrogen concentrations in runoff ranged from 0.07 to 31.1 mgL-1, with medians for groves and nurseries of 4.2 and 5.7 mgL-1, respectively. Constituents in runoff exceeding benchmarks for surface waters included turbidity, chlorpyrifos, and some organochlorine pesticides. When detected, chlorpyrifos concentration was linearly related to sample turbidity (P = 0.0025, r2 = 0.49). This suggests that the retention of waterborne sediments on-site may be an effective method for mitigating runoff of this pesticide. Bifenthrin, permethrin, and diazinon were also detected in runoff, but concentrations did not exceed water quality benchmarks. Nutrient concentrations in soil water were generally similar to nutrient concentrations in stormwater runoff, suggesting that potential groundwater contamination from leaching at citrus, avocado, and nursery sites may be as much of a concern as stormwater from these operations, particularly on sites with sandy or structured soil texture or flat topography. Nitrate-nitrite-nitrogen and orthophosphate concentrations in soil water were linearly related to nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer application rates across sites, respectively (P < 0.0001, r2 = 0.49 and 0.50, respectively), suggesting that proper nutrient management is important in reducing potential groundwater contamination at these operations .

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-367
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Horticulture


  • Nitrate
  • Nitrogen
  • Organochlorine
  • Organophosphate
  • Phosphorus
  • Pyrethroid


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