Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Disturbing former farmlands can rouse old pesticides, says Dartmouth research

A group of Dartmouth researchers has evidence that disturbing the land where farms once thrived can mobilize both arsenic and lead that were applied as pesticides in the early 1900s. Once disturbed, these metals can then contaminate nearby surface waters.

"We continue to learn more about how past agricultural practices are affecting our current environment," says Carl Renshaw, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth. "Unlike some of the pesticides used today, metals like arsenic and lead in old pesticides do not degrade over time. So the question becomes, where do they end up? As we learn more about what happens to these metals since they were applied, we can make better decisions about how to use our land."

Renshaw and his colleagues studied two New Hampshire apple orchards where the pesticide lead arsenate was once used, and they compared the data to a nearby uncontaminated field. Their research was published in the January-February issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.

The researchers confirmed earlier findings that, in the former orchards, most of the arsenic and lead remains in the top ten inches of soil. The new study goes further and shows that these toxic metals do not remain in their original mineral form. Instead, they are now part of the fine silt and organic matter in the soil, which is most susceptible to erosion.

"We learned that disturbing this land, for example tilling and replanting, mobilizes the arsenic and lead," says Renshaw. "The remobilized metals were found in sediments in a stream channel that drains the tilled orchard."

Renshaw explains that it’s unclear whether the metals in the sediment are taken up by plants and animals in the stream. The researchers tested the macroinvertebrate residents (midge flies and dragonflies) at the outlet of the contaminated stream, and found that, as of yet, there is no disparity in the levels of arsenic or lead.

"Historic farmlands in New Hampshire and elsewhere are increasingly being developed," says Renshaw. "While the arsenic and lead in the soils of old orchards is essentially immobile as long as the land is not disturbed, our work suggests that the development of these lands can inadvertently mobilize these metals toward bodies of water. Communities in these areas may want to ensure additional precautions are taken to control erosion when old orchard lands are disturbed in order to reduce the potential for contamination of nearby surface waters."

Sue Knapp | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>