Small-Grain Cover Crops Have Limited Effect on Neonicotinoid Contamination from Seed Coatings
- Kirsten A. Pearsons*
- Elizabeth K. RowenElizabeth K. RowenDepartment of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, United StatesMore by Elizabeth K. Rowen
- Kyle R. ElkinKyle R. ElkinUnited States Department of Agriculture—Agricultural Research Service, Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, United StatesMore by Kyle R. Elkin
- Kyle WickingsKyle WickingsDepartment of Entomology, Cornell University, Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, New York 14456, United StatesMore by Kyle Wickings
- Richard G. SmithRichard G. SmithDepartment of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire 03824, United StatesMore by Richard G. Smith
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- John F. TookerJohn F. TookerDepartment of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, United StatesMore by John F. Tooker
Neonicotinoids from insecticidal seed coatings can contaminate soil in treated fields and adjacent areas, posing a potential risk to nontarget organisms and ecological function. To determine if cover crops can mitigate neonicotinoid contamination in treated and adjacent areas, we measured neonicotinoid concentrations for three years in no-till corn-soybean rotations, planted with or without neonicotinoid seed coatings, and with or without small grain cover crops. Although neonicotinoids were detected in cover crops, high early season dissipation provided little opportunity for winter-planted cover crops to absorb significant neonicotinoid residues; small grain cover crops failed to mitigated neonicotinoid contamination in either treated or untreated plots. As the majority of neonicotinoids from seed coatings dissipated shortly after planting, residues did not accumulate in soil, but persisted at concentrations below 5 ppb. Persistent residues could be attributed to historic neonicotinoid use and recent, nearby neonicotinoid use. Tracking neonicotinoid concentrations over time revealed a large amount of local interplot movement of neonicotinoids; in untreated plots, contamination was higher when plots were less isolated from treated plots.
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