Surface water seal application to minimize volatilization loss of methyl isothiocyanate from soil columns

Catherine R. Simpson, Shad D. Nelson, Jerry E. Stratmann, Husein A. Ajwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Metam-sodium (MS, sodium methyldithiocarbamate) has been identified as a promising alternative chemical to replace methyl bromide (MeBr) in soil preplant fumigation. One degradation product of MS in soil is the volatile gas methyl isothiocyanate (MITC) which controls soilborne pests. Inconsistent results associated with MS usage indicate that there is a need to determine cultural practices that increase pest control efficacy. Sealing the soil surface with water after MS application may be a sound method to reduce volatilization loss of MITC from soils and increase the contact time necessary for MITC to control pests. The objective of this research was to develop a preliminary soil surface water application amount that would potentially inhibit the off-gassing rate of MITC. RESULTS: Off-gassing rate was consistently reduced with increasing water seal application. The application of a 2.5-3.8 cm water seal provided significantly lower (71-74% reduction in MITC volatilization) total fumigant loss compared with no water seal. The most favorable reduction in MITC off-gassing was observed in the 2.5 cm water seal. CONCLUSION: This suggests that volatilization of MITC-generating compounds can be highly suppressed using adequate surface irrigation following chemical application in this soil type (sandy clay loam), based on preliminary bench-scale soil column studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)686-692
Number of pages7
JournalPest Management Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Metam-sodium
  • Methyl bromide alternatives
  • Methyl isothiocyanate
  • Water seal


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