Degradation and sorption of metribuzin and primary metabolites in a sandy soil

Trine Henriksen, Bo Svensmark, René K. Juhler

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Leaching to the ground water of metabolites from the herbicide metribuzin [4-amino-6-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-3-(methylthio)-1,2,4-triazin-5-one] has been measured in a Danish field experiment in concentrations exceeding the European Union threshold limit for pesticides at 0.1 μg/L. In the present work, degradation and sorption of metribuzin and the metabolites desamino-metribuzin (DA), diketo-metribuzin (DK), and desamino-diketo-metribuzin (DADK) were studied in a Danish sandy loam topsoil and subsoil from the field in question, using accelerated solvent extraction and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis. Fast dissipation of metribuzin and the metabolites was observed in the topsoil, with 50% disappearance within 30 to 40 d. A two-compartment model described degradation of metribuzin and DA, whereas that of DADK could be described using first-order kinetics. Part of the dissipation was probably due to incorporation into soil organic matter. Degradation in subsoil occurred very slowly, with extrapolated half-lives of more than one year. Sorption in the topsoil followed the order DA > metribuzin > DK > DADK. Subsoil sorption was considerably lower, and was hardly measurable for metribuzin and DK. Abiotic degradation was considerably higher in the topsoil than the subsoil, especially concerning the de-amination step, indicating that organic matter may be related to the degradation process. The present results confirm observations of metribuzin and transformation product leaching made in the field experiment and demonstrate the need for knowledge on primary metabolites when assessing the risk for pesticide leaching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-627
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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