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Factors affecting atrazine fate in north central U.S. soils.

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  • 1USDA-Agricultural Research Service, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.


Atrazine persistence and fate are influenced by many factors, the interactions of which are difficult to predict. Several models, such as LEACHP (Wagenet and Hutson 1989), have been used as tools to estimate losses and identify variables that will impact the magnitude of loss. The LEACHP model was evaluated for predicting atrazine movement in sandy loam, silt loam, and clay loam soils during three consecutive years (two dry and one wet) in Minnesota (Khakural et al. 1995). Considering the broad range in soil properties and climatic conditions used in testing, the model performed well. However, these are only estimates, and additional field studies need to be conducted to verify model results. In a report by Fausey et al. (1995), the amount of atrazine found in groundwater throughout the Midwestern region was reported to be much below the MCL. However, specific sites in the Midwest may struggle with atrazine problems from both point and nonpoint sources of contamination. Some states, such as South Dakota, have created groundwater protection areas that alert growers and the public to sensitive areas where contamination may occur because of soil type, depth to groundwater, and distance to public wellheads. Wisconsin has developed a tiered managerial strategy, or zoning approach, in which restrictions are matched to pollution detections (Wolf and Nowak 1996). The USEPA has mandates for states to implement generic management plans to prevent pesticide contamination of groundwater. Chemical-specific plans by states will be required for at least five pesticides, one of which will be atrazine. Best management practices have been and are continuing to be developed to aid the grower in lessening the adverse impacts of atrazine. With continuing research into understanding the problem and developing solutions, and with adaptation of these recommendations by growers, the use of effective, inexpensive herbicides may continue with minimal off-site environmental effects.

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