Limited information is available on the risk to aquatic environments from the aerial application of copper fungicides to treat dothistroma needle blight in managed forests. Cuprous oxide was aerially applied to three catchments of Pinus radiata of varying age classes in the central North Island of New Zealand. Copper was monitored in stream water and sediments prior to and for 1 month after application. Copper deposits collected from tracer plates deployed above the water surface along the stream channels within the treated areas at each site ranged from 13 to 406 ppm. Lowest concentrations occurred above small stream channels with dense overhead riparian vegetation. Peak copper concentrations in stream water across the three sites ranged from 28 to 60 μg L-1 and were below the analytical detection limit within hours. Copper concentrations were higher and persisted for longer in stream sediment (range 1.7-6.1 mg kg-1, sampled at two sites only). Copper concentrations in sediments were below environmental guidelines. Copper concentrations in water and sediment indicated a low risk to aquatic organisms based on the exposure times to the concentrations measured in this study.
Keywords: Aerial application; Copper; Dothistroma; New Zealand; Planted forest; Sediment; Water quality.