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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Aerodynamic Measurements of Methyl Bromide Volatilization from Tarped and Nontarped Fields


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 24 No. 4, p. 742-752
    Received: June 2, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s): majewski@dcascr.wr.usgs.gov
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  1. Michael S. Majewski *,
  2. Michael M. McChesney,
  3. James E. Woodrow,
  4. John H. Prueger and
  5. James N. Seiber
  1. Water Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2233, Sacramento, CA 95825;
    Univ. of California, Dep. of Environmental Toxicology, Davis, CA 95616.
    Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Univ. of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557;
    Natl. Tilth Laboratory, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Ames, IA 50011.



Methyl bromide (MeBr) is used extensively in agriculture as a soil fumigant and there is growing concern over the role it may play in the depletion of stratospheric ozone. Methyl bromide is applied using various techniques and very little is known about how much of the applied fumigant volatilizes into the atmosphere after the application. This field study was designed to estimate the post-application methyl bromide volatilization loss rates from two different application practices. The fields were approximately 6 km apart in Monterey County, California, and were treated in conformity with local practices as of 1992. The MeBr was injected at a depth of 25 to 30 cm. One field was covered simultaneously with a high-barrier plastic film tarp during the application, and the other was left uncovered, but the furrows made by the injection shanks were bedded over. Volatilization fluxes were estimated using an aerodynamic-gradient technique immediately following the completion of the application process and continued for 9 d for the tarped field and 6 d for the nontarped field. The cumulative volatilization losses from the tarped field were 22% of the nominal application within the first 5 d of the experiment and about 32% of the nominal application within 9 d including the one day after the tarp was removed on Day 8 after application. In contrast, the nontarped field lost 89% of the nominal application by volatilization in 5 d. The volatilization rate from the tarped field was shown to be significantly lower than the nontarped field at a 95% confidence level.

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