Using the Pesticide Toxicity Index to show the potential ecosystem benefits of on-farm biobeds

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Fatema, Marufa
Farenhorst, Annemieke
Sheedy, Claudia
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The influent and effluent of two single-cell biobeds (Province of Alberta, Canada) and two dual cell-biobeds (Province of Saskatchewan, Canada) were monitored during a number of growing seasons. A total of 59 unique pesticide active ingredients were detected, with all biobed influent samples (n = 54) and 93% of effluent samples (n = 54) containing pesticide mixtures. About one-half of the effluent samples in both single-cell (56%) and dual-cell (45%) biobeds contained active ingredients that have Groundwater Ubiquity Score (GUS) values >2.8 and so were more likely to move through the biomatrix materials into effluent. The Pesticide Toxicity Index (PTI) calculated for aquatic indicator species (i.e., vascular and nonvascular plants, invertebrates, and fish) was always larger for influent samples (e.g., median PTI >500 for invertebrates in dual-cell biobed) than effluent samples (i.e., median PTI <1). As such, this study demonstrates the potential ecosystem benefits of the broad adoption of on-farm biobeds in the Canadian Prairies for recycling tank rinsate as a strategy to accelerate a green economy. Although biobeds were highly effective in reducing the concentrations for pesticides with a wide range of soil organic carbon coefficient and half-life values, the biobed effectiveness was relatively poor for the herbicides clopyralid, diclofop, fluroxypyr, and imazethapyr. Clopyralid (3.02), fluroxypyr (3.70), and imazethapyr (3.90) all have relatively high GUS values (>2.8) and are thus more likely to be detected in effluent than active ingredients with smaller GUS values. This suggests that further improvements in biosystem design need to be made for optimizing the recycling of these pesticides.
Biobed, Prairie agriculture, Influent, Effluent, Auxin herbicides