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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 6, p. 2141-2148
    Received: Aug 15, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): malone@nstl.gov
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Residual and Contact Herbicide Transport through Field Lysimeters via Preferential Flow

  1. R. W. Malone *a,
  2. M. J. Shipitalob,
  3. R. D. Wauchopec and
  4. H. Sumnerd
  1. a USDA Agricultural Research Service, National Soil Tilth Laboratory (NSTL), 2150 Pammel Drive, Ames, IA 50011
    b USDA Agricultural Research Service, North Appalachian Experimental Watershed, Coshocton, OH 43812
    c USDA Agricultural Research Service, Southeast Watershed Research Laboratory, Tifton, GA 31793
    d Formerly with USDA Agricultural Research Service, Tifton, GA 31793


Usage of glyphosate [N-(phosphonomethyl)-glycine] and glufosinate [2-amino-4-(hydroxy-methylphosphinyl)butanoic acid] may reduce the environmental impact of agriculture because they are more strongly sorbed to soil and may be less toxic than many of the residual herbicides they replace. Preferential flow complicates the picture, because due to this process, even strongly sorbed chemicals can move quickly to ground water. Therefore, four monolith lysimeters (8.1 m2 by 2.4 m deep) were used to investigate leaching of contact and residual herbicides under a worst-case scenario. Glufosinate, atrazine (6-chloro-N 2-ethyl-N 4-isopropyl-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine), alachlor [2-chloro-N-(2,6-diethylphenyl)-N-(methoxymethyl) acetamide], and linuron (3-3,4-dichlorophenyl-1-methoxy-1-methylurea) were applied in 1999 before corn (Zea mays L.) planting and glyphosate, alachlor, and metribuzin [4-amino-6-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-3-(methylthio)-1,2,4-triazin-5(4H)-one] were applied in 2000 before soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] planting. A high-intensity rainfall was applied shortly after herbicide application both years. Most alachlor, metribuzin, atrazine, and linuron losses occurred within 1.1 d of rainfall initiation and the peak concentration of the herbicides coincided (within 0.1 d of rainfall initiation in 2000). More of the applied metribuzin leached compared with alachlor during the first 1.1 d after rainfall initiation (2.2% vs. 0.035%, P < 0.05). In 1999, 10 of 24 discrete samples contained atrazine above the maximum contaminant level (atrazine maximum contaminant level [MCL] = 3 μg L−1) while only one discrete sample contained glufosinate (19 μg L−1, estimated MCL = 150 μg L−1). The results indicate that because of preferential flow, the breakthrough time of herbicides was independent of their sorptive properties but the transport amount was dependent on the herbicide properties. Even with preferential flow, glyphosate and glufosinate were not transported to 2.4 m at concentrations approaching environmental concern.

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