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Can Rice (Oryza sativa) Mitigate Pesticides and Nutrients in Agricultural Runoff?


Phytoremediation of nutrients and pesticides in runoff is a growing conservation effort, particularly in agriculturally intensive areas such as the lower Mississippi River Valley. In the current study, rice (Oryza sativa) was examined for its mitigation capacity of nitrogen, phosphorus, diazinon, and permethrin. Twenty-two high density polyethylene circular containers (56 cm x 45 cm) were used as mesocosms, with 12 mesocosms planted with rice and 10 mesocosms remaining unvegetated. Mesocosms were hydraulically connected and arranged in a series of two, with each system providing a 4 h hydraulic retention time (HRT) for a total system retention time of 8 h. Two treatments (RICE/RICE and RICE/BARE) of four replicates each were utilized, with three replicates of controls (BARE/BARE). Systems with RICE/RICE (8 h HRT) significantly reduced diazinon (p = 0.0126), cis-permethrin (p = 0.0442), filtered orthophosphate (p = 0.0058), and total orthophosphate (p = 0.0123) compared to control systems. No significant differences were noted for trans-permethrin, nitrate, or ammonium. Results indicate promise in phytoremediation of agricultural runoff by rice. If further studies reveal contaminants are not transferred into seeds, then rice could potentially serve as both a remediation tool and food source in countries facing agricultural pollution challenges.

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Thanks to Lisa Brooks, Renee Russell, and Wood Dabbs for sample collection assistance, preparation, and analyses. Mention of trade names and commercial products in this article are solely for the purpose of providing specific information and do not imply recommendation or endorsement by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

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Correspondence to M. T. Moore.

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Moore, M.T., Locke, M.A. Can Rice (Oryza sativa) Mitigate Pesticides and Nutrients in Agricultural Runoff?. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 100, 162–166 (2018).

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  • Mesocosm
  • Diazinon
  • Permethrin
  • Nitrate
  • Phosphate