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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 41 No. 3, p. 882-892
    Received: June 7, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): allan.cessna@ec.gc.ca
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Leaching of Three Imidazolinone Herbicides during Sprinkler Irrigation

  1. Allan J. Cessna *a,
  2. Jane A. Elliottb and
  3. Jonathan Baileyb
  1. a Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Centre, 107 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 0X2;A.J. Cessna, current address: Environment Canada, National Hydrology Research Centre, 11 Innovation Blvd., Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 3H5
    b Environment Canada, National Hydrology Research Centre, 11 Innovation Blvd., Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 3H5. Assigned to Associate Editor Robert Malone


Some imidazolinone herbicides have been shown to be mobile in soil, raising concern about their possible movement to ground water. Three imidazolinone herbicides (imazamethabenz-methyl, 497 g ha−1; imazethapyr, 14.7 g ha−1; and imazamox, 14.7 g ha−1) commonly used in crop production on the Canadian prairies were applied to a tile-drained field to assess their susceptibility to leach when subjected to sprinkler irrigation using a center pivot. Tile-drain flow began when the water table rose above tile-drain depth, and peak flow rates corresponded to the greatest depths of ground water above the tile drains. Interception of irrigation water by the tile drains in each quadrant of the field varied from ∼11 to 20% of the water applied. Under a worst-case scenario in which irrigation began the day after herbicide application and irrigation water was applied at 25 mm d−1 for 12 d, there was evidence of preferential flow of all three herbicides and hydrolysis of imazamethabenz-methyl to imazamethabenz in the initial samples of tile-drain effluent. In subsequent samples, concentrations (analysis by LC-MS-MS) of the summation of imazamethabenz-methyl (25–24,000 ng L−1) plus its hydrolysis product imazamethabenz (63–26,500 ng L−1) greatly exceeded those of imazethapyr (<13–1260 ng L−1) and imazamox (19–599 ng L−1), thus reflecting relative application rates. In contrast, estimates of total transport of each herbicide from the root zone, which varied in each quadrant and ranged from 0.06 to 2.3% for imazamethabenz-methyl plus imazamethabenz, 0.71 to 3.1% for imazethapyr, and 0.61 to 2.8% for imazamox, did not reflect application rates. In shallow ground water (piezometer samples), there was inconsistent and infrequent detection all four compounds. With the frequency and amount of rainfall typically encountered in the prairie region of Canada, contamination of shallow ground water with detectable concentrations of the three imidazolinone herbicides would be unlikely.

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