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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 May 15;40(10):3305-12.

Quantifying the effect of soil moisture on the aerobic microbial mineralization of selected pesticides in different soils.

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GSF-National Research Center for Environment and Health Institute of Soil Ecology, Ingolstädter Landstrasse 1, D-85764 Neuherberg, Germany.


A standardized quantitative approach was developed to reliably elucidate the effect of increasing soil moisture on pesticide mineralization. The mineralization of three aerobically degradable and chemically different 14C-labeled pesticides (isoproturon, benazolin-ethyl, and glyphosate) was studied under controlled conditions in the laboratory at an identical soil density of 1.3 g cm(-3). The agricultural soils used are characterized by (i) large variations in soil texture (sand content 4-88%) and organic matter content (0.97-2.70% org. C), (ii) fairly diverse soil-water retention curves, and (iii) differing pH values. We quantified the effect of soil moisture on mineralization of pesticides and found that (i) at soil water potential < or = -20 MPa minimal pesticide mineralization occurred; (ii) a linear correlation (P < 0.0001) exists between increasing soil moisture (within a soil water potential range of -20 and -0.015 MPa), and increased relative pesticide mineralization; (iii) optimum pesticide mineralization was obtained at a soil water potential of -0.015 MPa, and (iv) when soil moisture approximated water holding capacity, pesticide mineralization was considerably reduced. As both selected pesticides and soils varied to a large degree, we propose that the correlation observed in this study may be also valid in the case of aerobic degradation of other native and artificial organic compounds in soils.

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