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Pure Appl. Chem., 2006, Vol. 78, No. 5, pp. 1081-1090

Prediction of leaching and groundwater contamination by pesticides

Werner Kördel and Michael Klein

Fraunhofer-Institute Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, D-57392 Schmallenberg, Germany

Herein, we describe how pesticide leaching is assessed in Europe in order to fulfill EU Directive 91/414. The assessment schemes were developed to protect groundwater from unacceptable effects caused by pesticide use. They presently focus on chromatographic flow processes, which are dominant in sandy soils. Nevertheless, important regions in Europe are characterized by structured soils where transport through macropores is most relevant.
Comparison of parallel field studies with isoproturon performed in sandy and silty soils showed that maximum concentration in the structured soil at a soil depth of 1 m may exceed respective concentrations in sandy soils by a factor of 60. Similar results were obtained by lysimeter studies using silty soil cores with maximum concentration of 40 μg/l at the soil bottom. These results demonstrate that preferential flow is more the rule than the exception in well-structured fine-textured soils, and pesticide losses via macropore flow may exceed losses via matrix transport considerably. All present information available for macropore flow suggest the need for greater regional assessments. Other recommendations include analysis of the influence of different soil management practices on the formation of macropores.