A review of the effectiveness of vegetated buffers to mitigate pesticide and nutrient transport into surface waters from agricultural areas
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A relatively large number of studies have investigated the effectiveness of vegetated buffer strips at reducing the movement of pesticides and nutrients from agriculture fields. This review outlines the observed influence of different factors (e.g., buffer width, slope, runoff intensity, soil composition, plant community) that can influence the efficacy of vegetated buffers in pesticide and nutrient retention. The reported effectiveness of vegetated buffers reducing the movement of pesticides and nutrients ranged from 10 to 100% and 12-100%, respectively. Buffer width is the factor that is most frequently considered by various jurisdictions when making recommendations on vegetated buffer strip implementation. However, the literature clearly illustrates that there is a great deal of variation in pesticide or nutrient reduction for a given buffer width. This indicates that other factors play an important role in buffer efficacy (e.g., ratio of source area to buffer area, soil composition and structure, runoff intensity, plant community structure) in addition to the width of the vegetative buffer area. These factors need to be considered when making recommendations on vegetated buffer strip construction in agroecosystems. This review has also identified a number of other gaps in the understanding of the effectiveness of vegetated buffers at reducing the movement of pesticides and nutrients from the areas of application.
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