Holistic assessment of occurrence and fate of metolachlor within environmental compartments of agricultural watersheds

Science of the Total Environment
By: , and 

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Abstract

Background: Metolachlor [(RS)-2-Chloro-N-(2-ethyl-6-methyl-phenyl)-N-(1-methoxypropan-2-yl)acetamide] and two degradates (metolachlor ethane-sulfonic acid and metolachlor oxanilic acid) are commonly observed in surface and groundwater. The behavior and fate of these compounds were examined over a 12-year period in seven agricultural watersheds in the United States. They were quantified in air, rain, streams, overland flow, groundwater, soil water, subsurface drain water, and water at the stream/groundwater interface. The compounds were frequently detected in surface and groundwater associated with agricultural areas. A mass budget approach, based on all available data from the study and literature, was used to determine a percentage-wise generalized distribution and fate of applied parent metolachlor in typical agricultural environments.

Results: In these watersheds, about 90% of applied metolachlor was taken up by plants or degraded, 10% volatilized, and 0.3% returned as rainfall. One percent was transported to surface water, while an equal amount infiltrated into the unsaturated zone soil water. < 0.02% reached the groundwater. Subsurface flow paths resulted in greater degradation of metolachlor because degradation reactions had more time to proceed.

Conclusions: An understanding of the residence times of water in the different environmental compartments, and the important processes affecting metolachlor as it is transported along flowpaths among the environmental compartments allows for a degree of predictability of metolachlor's fate. Degradates with long half-lives can be used (in a limited capacity) as tracers of metolachlor, because of their persistence and widespread occurrence in the environment.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Holistic assessment of occurrence and fate of metolachlor within environmental compartments of agricultural watersheds
Series title Science of the Total Environment
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.154
Volume 612
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center
Description 12 p.
First page 708
Last page 719