Degradation and persistence of metolachlor in soil: Effects of concentration, soil moisture, soil depth, and sterilization

Pamela J. Rice, Todd A. Anderson, Joel R. Coats

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The present study evaluated the influence of soil depth, soil moisture, and concentration on the persistence and degradation of metolachlor in soil. Greater percentages of metolachlor persisted in subsurface soils than in surface soil regardless of the soil moisture or initial herbicide concentration. Larger quantities of bound residues and extractable degradation products were found in the surface soils as a result of the increased soil sorption and biodegradation of metolachlor associated with the surface soil, which had more organic matter. Saturated soil favored the dissipation of metolachlor and the formation of soil-bound residues. Significantly greater quantities of a dechlorinated metabolite were measured in the saturated surface soil compared to the unsaturated soil. Mineralization of metolachlor to CO2 and volatilization of metolachlor or metolachlor degradates was minimal in surface and subsurface soils at both soil moistures and herbicide concentrations. Increased metolachlor concentrations did not inhibit microbial activity; however, the greater rate of application did result in the reduced percentage of applied [14C] metolachlor that was bound to surface or subsurface soil. A significant reduction in the quantity of extractable metolachlor degradates and unextractable soil-bound residues in sterile soil revealed the significance of biodegradation to the dissipation of metolachlor in soil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2640-2648
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Degradation
  • Metolachlor
  • Soil depth
  • Soil moisture


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