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J Environ Qual. 2008 May 2;37(3):1064-72. doi: 10.2134/jeq2006.0562. Print 2008 May-Jun.

Simulated fate and transport of metolachlor in the unsaturated zone, Maryland, USA.

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  • 1U.S. Geological Survey, 5957 Lakeside Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46278, USA.


An unsaturated-zone transport model was used to examine the transport and fate of metolachlor applied to an agricultural site in Maryland, USA. The study site was instrumented to collect data on soil-water content, soil-water potential, ground water levels, major ions, pesticides, and nutrients from the unsaturated zone during 2002-2004. The data set was enhanced with site-specific information describing weather, soils, and agricultural practices. The Root Zone Water Quality Model was used to simulate physical, chemical, and biological processes occurring in the unsaturated zone. Model calibration to bromide tracer concentrations indicated flow occurred through the soil matrix. Simulated recharge rates were within the measured range of values. The pesticide transport model was calibrated to the intensive data collection period (2002-2004), and the calibrated model was then used to simulate the period 1984 through 2004 to examine the impact of sustained agricultural management practices on the concentrations of metolachlor and its degradates at the study site. Simulation results indicated that metolachlor degrades rapidly in the root zone but that the degradates are transported to depth in measurable quantities. Simulations indicated that degradate transport is strongly related to the duration of sustained use of metolachlor and the extent of biodegradation.

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