What is water runoff?
Water runoff occurs when storm water, snowmelt, or other water moves over or through the ground and collects and carries away natural and human-made pollutants. As it relates to the farm, farmers and ranchers are concerned with fertilizer, manure and pesticide use and how that can affect local waterways.
To combat water runoff issues, farmers and ranchers are better managing the tools they use to reduce runoff. For example, in 2007, roughly 877 million pounds of active ingredients were applied to U.S. cropland. In comparison, in 1980, roughly 1.1 billion pounds of active ingredients were applied. So, usage went down while yields went up.
Additionally, pesticides peaked in 1999, with 956 million pounds used compared to 2007 when only 877 million pounds were used. Reductions in inputs have greatly reduced the environmental impact, especially for water quality.