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Method for Estimating Pesticide Use for County Areas of the Conterminous United States

ByGail P. Thelin, and Leonard P. Ginessi

Open-File Report 00-250
Sacramento, California, 2000


Information on the amount and distribution of pesticide compounds used throughout the United States is essential to evaluate the relation between water quality and pesticide use. This information is the basis of the U.S. Geological Surveyıs National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program studies of the effects of pesticides on water quality in 57 major hydrologic systems, or study units, located throughout the conterminous United States. To support these studies, a method was devised to estimate county pesticide use for the conterminous United States by combining (1) state-level information on pesticide use rates available from the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, and (2) county-level information on harvested crop acreage from the Census of Agriculture. The average annual pesticide use, the total amount of pesticides applied (in pounds), and the corresponding area treated (in acres) were compiled for the 208 pesticide compounds that are applied to crops in the conterminous United States. Pesticide use was ranked by compound and crop on the basis of the amount of each compound applied to 86 selected crops. Tabular summaries of pesticide use for NAWQA study units and for the Nation were prepared, along with maps that show the distribution of selected pesticides to agricultural land.

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