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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 61 No. 4, p. 1085-1090
    Received: Sept 25, 1995

    * Corresponding author(s): dshelton@asrr.arsusda.gov
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Estimating Losses of Efficacy Due to Pesticide Biodegradation in Soil: Model Simulations

  1. Daniel R. Shelton  and
  2. Michael A. Doherty
  1. USDA-ARS Environmental Chemistry Lab.
    USDA-ARS Weed Science Lab., Bldg. 007, BARC-West, 10300 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville, MD 20705-2350



A model was developed for describing rates of pesticide-substrate biodegradation, accounting for bioavailability and microbial growth. The model was used to simulate losses of efficacy for soil-applied pesticides. The model requires rate constants for rapid sorption-desorption to and from soil surfaces (k1/k-1 = Kd1); diffusion into and out of soil aggregates-organic matter particles (k2/k-2 = Kd2); microbial growth [yield (Y), maximum growth rate (µmax), half-saturation growth constant (Ks), and initial biomass concentration (X0)]; initial mass of substrate (s0); and gravimetric water content (θg). Simulations of microbial growth and substrate depletion were conducted assuming no sorption (aqueous solution), sorption to soil surfaces only, and sorption in conjunction with diffusion. The time required to achieve a soil solution concentration of 1 µg mL−1 was defined as a hypothetical loss of efficacy (LE1). Certain relationships were consistently observed, regardless of sorption or diffusion: LE1 was found to be related to Ks linearly, to X0 logarithmically, to µmax geometrically, and to initial pesticide-substrate concentration (S0) nonlinearly. Sorption to soil surfaces resulted in decreased equilibrium soil solution concentration (Se), depending on the magnitude of θg and Kd1. Rates of biodegradation-growth were a function of Se, as opposed to total (soluble + sorbed) concentration. Sorption coupled with diffusion decreased both Se and time-dependent availability, resulting in slower rates of biodegradation. In general, larger values of S0 resulted in faster rates of biodegradation, i.e., decreased the time required for a loss of efficacy.

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