Pour lutter contre les pollutions diffuses en milieu rural, de nombreux programmes d'action se mettent en place. Le développement de recherches sur les connexions parcelle - cours d'eau devrait permettre de mieux comprendre le transfert et la dissipation des polluants dans ce milieu. En particulier, les fossés, structures relativement fréquentes dans les territoires cultivés, peuvent, a priori, avoir une fonction de court-circuit et donc faciliter le transfert des produits phytosanitaires, ou au contraire constituer des éléments de pondération de la pollution. Afin d'éclaircir ce point, une première série d'expérimentations a été menée par le Cemagref (Institut français de recherche pour l'ingénierie de l'agriculture et de l'environnement) dans des fossés de drainage agricole. Une solution aqueuse contenant trois herbicides aux caractéristiques physico-chimiques différentes (isoproturon, diuron et diflufénicanil), et un traceur (chlorures) a été injectée pendant quelques minutes dans quatre fossés. Des échantillons d'eau ont été prélevés à pas de temps fins à deux emplacements en aval du point d'injection. Après dosage par chromatographie au laboratoire, les résultats indiquent une diminution du flux et de la concentration maximale du pic de polluants comparativement à un traceur. En outre, la variation observée est corrélée aux propriétés physico-chimiques des produits, en particulier au coefficient de partage Koc. L'étude présentée montre que la surface de contact (liée à la nature du substrat) et le temps de contact (dépendant essentiellement des conditions d'écoulement) entre les polluants et le substrat sont les paramètres qui influent majoritairement sur la dissipation des produits phytosanitaires.
Retention of pesticides by farm ditches
The use of pesticide may lead to the contamination of surface and groundwaters. Agricultural nonpoint source pollution originates from land areas which intermittently contribute to the compound transfer to water. Several studies report on the occurrence of pesticides in surface water resources, with concentrations over the limit set by the 80/778 EEC directive for drinking water (0.1 µg/L for each substance and 0.5 µg/L for all pesticides). Numerous herbicides of different chemical families are detected in surface waters, especially triazines and ureas. Their concentrations vary with time and space partly in relation with application patterns and pluviometry. Maximum concentrations are linked to runoff, originating from agricultural fields and primarily occur right after the application periods.
Many methods and levels of actions can be used to reduce water pollution. First, better agricultural practices can be set up, such as choosing the best dose and application period, controlling toxic substance impacts, combining with non-chemical practices. However, pesticide losses from fields can't be totally cancelled because of the complexity of the involved parameters (agricultural practices, climatic conditions, soil physical, chemical and biological properties …). In fact drift during application, runoff or drainage systems may still occur and have an effect on water quality. It may be then pertinent to evaluate to which extent the non treated areas between the fields and the surface water bodies can dissipate pesticide concentrations before they reach them. Pesticides leaving a plot in surface runoff may pass through various landscape components before reaching rivers ; including another field, a ditch, a small brook, a vegetative buffer zone. Besides, pesticide leaving the plot through drainage straightly moves agricultural ditches or streams. However, the contribution of each of these elements in pesticide dissipation is not well known, except for buffer zones (grassed or forest strips) (PATTY (1997). Cemagref (a French research institute), CEH Wallingford and ITCF (Institut Technique des Cereales et des Fourrages) attempt to extend their study to the other elements as agricultural ditches.
This paper deals with the role of farm ditches and small streams in the transport and retention of pesticides from fields to the main river network. Their presence seems to play a significant role in the transfer of nonpoint source pollution (especially in the West of France). Indeed they can either accelerate pesticide transport or reduce it, according to their characteristics (length, flow, bottom sediment or soil characteristics, plants and organic matter contents, etc.). Since 1998, Cemagref has been investigating the retention of pesticides by several natural ditches with varied flows and substratum. A water solution containing three herbicides with different physico chemical properties (diflufenican, diuron and isoproturon) and potassium chloride, a tracer, is introduced with a pump in each ditch for about five minutes with a constant concentration. Water samples are collected in the ditches every two or five minutes at two distances from the injection point. The samples are stored in amber polyethylene terephtalate bottles and frozen. Laboratory analysis is performed by liquid-liquid extraction with dichloromethane and then liquid or gas chromatography depending on the compounds.
The analysis of the water samples highlights a reduction of the maximum concentration and of the accumulative mass of each pesticide with distance compared to the tracer. Indeed, even if all the chloride ions used as tracers are not recovered at each sampling point (due to infiltration or lateral losses), we notice more significant losses for all the studied herbicides. The reduction can reach 70 % of the applied mass for diflufenican compared to the tracer. The retention of pesticides is also linked to their own physical and chemical properties. Thus, diflufenican, which has the highest sorption coefficient value, Koc, is also the most retained pesticide, whereas the total injected mass of isoproturon is recovered in most cases. Diuron has an intermediate behaviour.
In brief, this field experiment proves that the surface and time of contact between pollutants and substratum are likely to play a major role in pesticide retention. An estimated adsorption capacity of each ditch has been assessed, which is based on laboratory sorption experiments on different natural substratum. Despite the few data, a relationship between diflufenican retention in ditches and the estimated adsorption capacity of each ditch has been underscored.
This study also highlighted major limits of field experiments. For example, accurate flow measurements are really difficult to carry out with simple methods for low values. The conventional techniques can't be used with small water height or in ditch where the bottom is filled with plants or grass. Chloride ion was chosen in this study because it is easy to analyze, but the results showed an initial presence of chloride ion in the natural ditch water which incites to replace it by another tracer such as bromide with is not found in the environment in future field experiments.
For all these reasons, some pilot experiments with a physical model (an artificial ditch of 8 m long and 0.4 m wide) are now designed. This equipment allows to adjust and control hydrodynamic parameters such as water flow, water height, and the nature and structure of the substratum. Then, it is possible to quantify both the role played by the substratum, mainly the organic matter content, and the role of the contact time. These parameters could be then taken into account in order to optimize further experiments on adsorption. The primary tests without substratum already give references for hydrodynamic measurements, as the stability of the water flow and the homogeneity of the initial solution concentration.