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Fate of atrazine in a soil under different agronomic management practices

B. Prado, M. Fuentes, N. Verhulst, B. Govaerts, F. De León, O. Zamora
Journal of environmental science and health 2014 v.49 no.11 pp. 844-855
adsorption, atrazine, clay soils, conventional tillage, corn, crop rotation, environmental health, groundwater, leaching, metabolites, no-tillage, preferential flow, soil depth, soil movement, soil organic matter
Agricultural management affects the movement of atrazine in soil and leaching to groundwater. The objective of this study was to determine atrazine adsorption in a soil after 20 years of atrazine application under agronomic management practices differing in tillage practice (conventional and zero tillage), residue management (with and without residue retention) and crop rotation (wheat-maize rotation and maize monoculture). Atrazine sorption was determined using batch and column experiments. In the batch experiment, the highest distribution coefficient K d (1.1 L kg ⁻¹) at 0–10 cm soil depth was observed under zero tillage, crop rotation and residue retention (conservation agriculture). The key factor in adsorption was soil organic matter content and type. This was confirmed in the column experiment, in which the highest K d values were observed in treatments with residue retention, under either zero or conventional tillage (0.81 and 0.68 L kg ⁻¹, respectively). Under zero tillage, the fact that there was no soil movement helped to increase the K d. The increased soil organic matter content with conservation agriculture may be more important than preferential flow due to higher pore connectivity in the same system. The soil's capacity to adsorb 2-hydroxyatrazine (HA), an important atrazine metabolite, was more important than its capacity to adsorb atrazine, and was similar under all four management practices (K d ranged from 30 to 40 L kg ⁻¹). The HA adsorption was attributed to the type and amount of clay in the soil, which is unaffected by agronomic management. Soils under conservation agriculture had higher atrazine retention potential than soils under conventional tillage, the system that predominates in the study area.