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Almond organophosphate and pyrethroid use in the San Joaquin Valley and their associated environmental risk



The purpose of the present study are to analyze the temporal and spatial trends of the pesticide use on almond crops and assess their associated risk to soil, surface water, and air, and to investigate the impacts of pesticide risk on biodiversity.

Materials and methods

California Pesticide Use Report database was used to determine the organophosphate (OP) and pyrethroid use trends in the San Joaquin Valley for almonds from 1992 to 2005. Environmental potential risk indicator for pesticides model was employed to evaluate associated environmental relative risks in soil and in surface water. Emission potential of pesticide product was used to estimate the air relative risk. Geographical Information System was used to delineate the spatial distribution patterns of environmental risk evaluation in almonds and biodiversity.

Results and discussion

OP pesticide use has been declined in any measurement in almonds. However, a converse result was found for pyrethroid pesticide. Pesticide use trends reflect the profound changes in pest management strategies in the California almond farm community. The model results in this study showed evidence that pyrethroid posed less environmental risks to soil, air, and water resources than OP. The physiochemical properties of pyrethroid reflect a strong tendency to adsorb to organic carbons, and therefore, potentially move off-site attached to sediment. Once in sediments, they can be bioavailable to the aquatic food web. So, more future study on environmental model should address pyrethroid environmental risk on sediment. Ecologists revealed that endangered species diversity has good correlation with total species diversity, so we developed a biodiversity index by using the survey data of endangered and rare animals in California. The results showed a negative relationship between count of animal occurrence and predicted environmental risk. This result would be useful to help conserve California’s biological diversity by providing information to promote agricultural management and land-use decisions.


Pesticide use trend is directly related to environmental risk. Pyrethroid posed less environmental risk than OP in this study. And also, this study got a noticeable result that pesticide uses in intensive agriculture and their associated environmental risks pose negative impacts on biodiversity.

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This research was supported by the California State Water Resource Control Board (06–001004), Zhejiang Province Science and Technology Key Project (2008 C03009), National Science and Technology Support Program (2012BAD15B04), the Project of Zhejiang Key Scientific and Technological Innovation Team (2010R50039), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (40901254).

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Correspondence to Minghua Zhang or Jianming Xu.

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Responsible editor: Bernd Markert

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Liu, X., Zhan, Y., Luo, Y. et al. Almond organophosphate and pyrethroid use in the San Joaquin Valley and their associated environmental risk. J Soils Sediments 12, 1066–1078 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-012-0519-8

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  • Almonds
  • Animal occurrence
  • Environmental risk
  • OP
  • Pyrethroid
  • Use trend