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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Organic Compounds in the Environment

Field History and Dissipation of Atrazine and Metolachlor in Colorado


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 128-134
    Received: Apr 21, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): Dale.Shaner@ars.usda.gov
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  1. Dale L. Shaner *a and
  2. W. Brien Henryb
  1. a USDA-ARS, Water Management Research Unit, 2150 Centre Ave., Building D, Suite 320, Fort Collins, CO 80526
    b USDA-ARS, Central Plains Resources Management Research Unit, 40335 County Rd. GG, Akron, CO 80720


Farmers in eastern Colorado have commented that atrazine does not provide the length of weed control that they expected in fields that have received multiple applications of the herbicide. Multiple laboratory studies suggest that atrazine dissipates more rapidly in soils with a history of atrazine use compared with soils that had not been treated with the herbicide and this could be related to the above observation. Field and laboratory studies were conducted to determine the rate of dissipation of atrazine and metolachlor in fields in Colorado. The published half-lives of atrazine and metolachlor are 60 and 56 d, respectively. In the field studies, the half-lives of atrazine and metolachlor in the top 15 cm of the soil ranged between 3.5 and 7.2 d and 17.9 and 18.8 d, respectively. In laboratory studies, the half-life of atrazine varied from 1.4 to 19.8 d with the shortest half-life occurring in soils which had been treated with atrazine for at least 5 yr. The longest half-life was in a soil that had never received atrazine. The half-life of metolachlor in these same soils varied from 10.6 to 28.2 d. There was no apparent relationship between the half-life of metolachlor and the half-life of atrazine in the laboratory studies. These results confirm farmers' observation of the shorter residual activity of atrazine in Colorado fields receiving atrazine over multiple years.

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