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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 28 No. 6, p. 1908-1915
    Received: Dec 4, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): burkart@nstl.gov
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Agrichemicals in Ground Water of the Midwestern USA: Relations to Soil Characteristics

  1. Michael R. Burkart *,
  2. Dana W. Kolpin,
  3. Robert J. Jaquis and
  4. Kevin J. Cole
  1. National Soil Tilth Lab., 2150 Pammel Dr., Ames, IA 50011;
    U.S. Geological Survey, 400 South Clinton Street, Iowa City, IA 52244.



A comprehensive set of soil characteristics were examined to determine the effect of soil on the transport of agrichemicals to ground water. This paper examines the relation of local soil characteristics to concentrations and occurrence of nitrate, atrazine (2-chloro-4 ethylamino-6-isopropylamino-s-trazine), and atrazine residue [atrazine + deethylatrazine (2-amino-4-chloro-6-isopropylamino-s-triazine) + deisopropylatrazine (2-amino-4-chloro-6-ethylamino-s-triazine)] from 99 wells completed in unconsolidated aquifers across the midwestern USA. The occurrence and concentrations of nitrate and atrazine in ground water were directly related to soil characteristics that determine the rate of water movement. The substantial differences in the relations found among soil characteristics and nitrate and atrazine in ground water suggest that different processes affect the transformation, adsorption, and transport of these contaminants. A multivariate analysis determined that the soil characteristics examined explained the amount of variability in concentrations for nitrate (19.0%), atrazine (33.4%), and atrazine residue (28.6%). These results document that, although soils do affect the transport of agrichemicals to ground water, other factors such as hydrology, land use, and climate must also be considered to understand the occurrence of agrichemicals in ground water.

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