Journal of agricultural and food chemistry

Lysimeter experiment to investigate the potential influence of diffusion-limited sorption on pesticide availability for leaching.

PMID 17117804


Pesticide leaching from soil has been shown to decrease with increasing time from application to irrigation. It is hypothesized that the availability of compounds for leaching decreases due to diffusion and sorption inside soil aggregates. Previous work showed that pesticide sorption inside soil aggregates increases significantly during the first days after application. The study presented here tested if diffusion into aggregates could explain the leaching of four aged pesticides from manually irrigated soil cores. Azoxystrobin, chlorotoluron, cyanazine, and bentazone were applied to 30 undisturbed cores (25 cm long, 23.7 cm diameter) from a clay loam soil. The soil cores were irrigated 1, 3, 7, 14, and 28 days after application. Leachate was collected and analyzed. The amount of pesticide found in leachate decreased rapidly with time from application. Pesticide losses in leachate declined 2.5-27 times faster than total residues in soil. The decline was 4-5 times faster for the more strongly sorbed pesticides (azoxystrobin, chlorotoluron, and cyanazine) than for bentazone. In previous work, we derived a model to describe sorption and diffusion of the pesticides in small aggregates from the same soil. The diffusion model was used here to describe sorption inside the large aggregates in the soil cores and extended to describe pesticide leaching by interaggregate flow. The model showed a significant decline in leaching with time from application, which supports the theory that diffusion-limited sorption in aggregates influences the availability for pesticide leaching, although it does not exclude alternative explanations for this decline. The model well described the decline in leaching for three out of four pesticides. The interaggregate transport model could, however, not account for the amount of preferential flow in the cores and underestimated the leaching of bentazone.