Effect of field-scale soil and crop management on surface and groundwater quality across the Canadian prairies
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The potential for field-scale (non-point) soil and crop management activities to have a negative effect on water quality within the Canadian prairies is apparent, but results are by no means certain Individual attitudes towards concepts such as : relative risk; the implications of zero tolerance; and the strengths and limitations behind water quality guidelines will have a great bearing on how we interpret water quality information. The implication that prairie waters are widely, unacceptably affected by agriculture cannot be substantiated. Within the context of the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines, we find no clear evidence of the wide-spread contamination of surface and groundwaters from non-point agricultural activities on the prairies For example, relatively few pesticides are consistently detected in surface and groundwaters, and these rarely exceed current guidelines. This does not mean there are no problems nor the potential for them to occur. But current problems are generally neither wide-spread nor excessive in magnitude. There is need for a prairie-wide coordination of water quality activities to assure a unified approach towards common water quality objectives.
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